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April 5, 2022

The Unquiet Dead by Stacie Murphy ~ a Review

by MK French

Amelia Matthew is coming to grips with her ability to speak with the dead, and would rather forget her experience on Blackwell Island. But she and her brother Jonas find the body of a girl that was missing in Gilded Age New York, and a young teen at the club where she works is accused of the crime. Amelia and Jonas have five days to find the real killer before the boy is transferred to the infamous Sing Sing prison to await trial. Evidence is mounting against him, so are Amelia and Jonas working to free a killer?

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The Unquiet Dead
April 2022; Pegasus Crime; 978-1643138930
ebook, print (352 pages); supernatural mystery

The Unquiet Dead
follows A Deadly Fortune (read my review), where we first meet Amelia and learn about her ability. She was in Blackwell Island, a Gilded Age sanitorium where women were kept. The mentally ill, intoxicated, self-assured and women who were otherwise obnoxious to men were all kept there, and escaping the asylum was a traumatic experience for Amelia as she discovered the truth about it. The first novel uncovered the problems with early psychiatry in the 1890s, and this one also exposes social problems of the period.

Jacob is suffering from PTSD after the events of the first novel, though of course, they don't know it by that name. He drinks too much, gets into fights, loses his temper, and is startled by noises or people behind him, anything that might remind him of nearly dying. Amelia is still working as a medium, and the two are drawn into the case against the mixed-race child of their coworker, who worked at a laundry. It's class differences as well as racism in the period; the background romance between Amelia and Andrew that began in the first book simmers here as well. Amelia is reminded of the things she and Jacob had to do to survive, whereas Andrew and Sidney grew up in ease and never doubting the future. Add to this a situation where young children are abducted and later found dead, and it's a hotbed of emotions and feelings.

The mystery is solved by the end of the book, of course, and we see hope for the future for our main characters. Life isn't going to be easy, of course. Gay love was a crime then, and class differences were still looked down on. But our main characters are willing to live their truth and fight for a better future. People like this have always existed, and I love seeing this glimpse into that side of the past in novels.

Buy The Unquiet Dead at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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