Murder in the North End | BOOK REVIEW

Nell Sweeney’s friend, Detective Collin Cook, was accused of murdering a man named John Cassidy at North End. Finding a dead body in the area is not unusual because the place is notorious for many killings, beatings, knifings, thefts, and rapes. But Nell believes that Cook is incapable of such act.

The haughty Constable Skinner brought the news and he wanted to press Nell for information regarding Cook’s whereabouts. Nell has no idea. Seeing Skinner trying to pin down the murder to him for personal revenge, she knows Cook is in an absolute danger. With the help of William Hewitt, they will try to prove the detective’s innocence and find the real culprit.

Murder in the North End is the 5th book of the Nell Sweeney Mysteries. The series was set in Boston, mid-1800s. According to history, the Irish immigrants became the largest ethnic group in the city by 1850 and settled in the slums of North End, South Cove, and Fort Hill. Their growing population became a threat to the Bostonians in terms of jobs, religion and politics, thus, discrimination and inequality too started to widen. P.B. Ryan used this part of history in creating a remarkable plot and heroine. Nell belonged to an Irish family. Since she started the job as Gracie’s governess, she has been given cold shoulder by the other Hewitt servants. They tagged that privilege as ‘undeserved’ because she’s an Irish and never had a proper education to be in that position. Being an Irish in the Boston Police Department is much difficult. Collin Cook’s coworkers (including Skinner) look at him with contempt especially now that several of police were demoted. They believed that Cook acted against them by telling the authority about the corruption that’s happening in the bureau. To ruin him is Skinner’s sole purpose.

This is the second book in the series that made me cry. It affects me whenever Will has to say goodbye to Nell because of their complicated situation. The scene at the end is so heartfelt and all I have for the two was sympathy. Nell is still married to Duncan (her husband, currently in prison, who had hurt her badly physically and emotionally) and the divorce is restricted in the Catholic Church. Nell don’t want to do things against the church law, however, the things she will learn from Mrs. Cook, on why Collin decided to convert to Protestantism, might change her heart. If you are sensitive to religious comparison such as Catholic vs Protestant beliefs, you might get offended by some statements written in the book.

“I should go,” he said hoarsely, his hands tangled in her hair. Nell drew in a breath, willing herself to take it back, to bow to her mind and not her heart, to do the right thing, the prudent thing, but when the air left her lungs, it emerged in a whispered, heartfelt, “Stay.”

If you have already read Still Life with Murders (Book 1) Cook’s case is in a way similar to William’s. They were both in the right place at the wrong time. Exactly after the killings occurred, witnesses’ saw them beside the victims’ bodies — a perfect scene to accuse them of murder. Also, the author never fails to give a satisfying conclusion in each story not just because every murderer were caught, but because some lives were changed for the good and new friendships were built. In Death on Beacon Hill, Maximillian Thurston, Emily Pratt and Isaac Foster became Nell and Will’s friends. In Murder on Black Friday, Eileen (Bassette’s maid) received help to correct her club foot and became a Hewitt maid. In this book, another life will be redeemed from the slums of North End.

I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. As I have mentioned before, the books contain lots of dialogues and long chapters. At times, such can make the reader feel bored. That will be my reason for the minus 1 point. Do read this book if you are a fan of murder mystery, historical fiction, and romance. I won’t recommend this to younger readers because it contains, violence, occasional profanity, and sexual innuendos. 

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