Seven for a Secret is the second fantastic Timothy Wilde historical mystery by Lyndsay Faye. The series is set in 1840’s New York City. Wilde is a member of the newly formed copper stars, the city’s first police force.
It is Valentine’s Day, and Timothy and his colleague Jakob Priest are celebrating having solved an art theft when a beautiful woman of color comes looking for him at the station house. She is Lucy Adams, and she has just returned home from her job at a flower shop to find her son and sister missing. She knows exactly what happened to them. “Blackbirders” have snatched them to sell down south as escaped slaves, even though they are free.
Timothy asks his brother Valentine to go with him to get them back. Although Valentine is a corrupt Democratic party boss and a drug addict, he’s a good man in a fight. Timothy, his African-American friend Julius, and Valentine retrieve the three from the slavers, Varker and Coles, but not without a fight. The two women and little boy need somewhere safe to stay until Lucy’s husband returns, so Valentine offers them the use of his apartment.
Something is going on that is more complex than he understands, for when Timothy goes searching for Lucy’s husband, he finds that Lucy isn’t married to Charles Adams, a white salesman, as she thinks she is. She may or may not be married, but her “husband” is a Democratic senator for New York state.
Coming to see Lucy and her family a couple of days later, Timothy finds Lucy strangled and the room disrupted. Timothy is an honest police officer but he knows a frame job when he sees one. He has just finished removing the body and cleaning up when an enemy, Sean Mulquean, another copper star, arrives to investigate a reported disturbance. Timothy also soon learns that Varker and Coles have kidnapped Julius, so he must hurry to court to try to free him before he can look for Lucy’s sister Delia and son Jonas.
Faye’s historical setting of gritty 1846 New York is absolutely convincing. We like Timothy more the more we see him, and Faye is beginning to build a solid cast of supporting characters. This is a well-written, swift-moving, suspenseful series. At almost 500 pages, the novel is long for a mystery, but it didn’t seem like it for a second. Unfortunately, I have just learned that there is only to be one more in the series, and that one is waiting in my pile to be read.