New York City, 1888: A devastating blizzard envelops the city, killing hundreds of people. Heiress Prudence MacKenzie’s fiancé, Charles Linwood, is found after the blizzard, with an ace of spades playing card clutched in his fist. Despite reassurances from everyone that Charles died from the blizzard, Prudence is not convinced. There are too many unanswered questions, especially the significance of the playing card. Prudence’s desire for answers leads her into the underbelly of New York City, where dark secrets hover in the shadows. As Prudence, with the help of former Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, slowly uncovers the truth, she discovers how deadly and grisly the truth can truly be.

It is my pleasure to announce this year’s Adams County Reads One Book title, “What the Dead Leave Behind,” by Rosemary Simpson. To quote Kirkus Reviews, “A daring daughter of the Gilded Age must fight her stepmother for her very survival…Simpson’s debut…features complex characters, a vivid look at old New York in the late 1800s, and a mystery with a twist.” This is the first in the Gilded Age mystery series published by Kensington Publishing. The Gilded Age, predominantly in the last nineteenth century, saw lots of opportunities for growth and wealth and industrial innovations, as well as greed and poverty, corruption and despair. It’s also a period that still feels the influences and outcomes of the Civil War, whose ghosts haunt every aspect of society. This is also the Victorian Era, with specific expectations on decorum; Prudence at times breaks the Victorian mold in her actions.

Jessica Laganosky is the Adams County Library System’s public services librarian.

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