Friday, November 3, 2023

Inferno on Fifth - A Review


By Marlie Parker Wasserman 
In 1899 the Windsor Hotel in Manhattan was a grand edifice seven stories high taking up an entire city block housing visitors and wealthy New Yorkers alike. Everyone was in a celebratory mood that St. Patrick's Day and Irish music filled the air as the parade began. But as the parade got close to the hotel, smoke filled the air. Bystanders looked up in shock to see women hanging out of the hotel windows, some jumping as flames shot out of the building. Screams rent the air. In less than two hours there was nothing but rubble and almost 100 people were dead. INFERNO ON FIFTH follows events leading up to and following the blaze. What could have caused such devastation?
I love history as well as mysteries and INFERNO ON FIFTH combines both in an intriguing story inspired by true events. Each chapter is written from the viewpoint of one of the people whose life was affected by the fire, from hotel guests and staff to investigators, with thoughts and opinions from neighbors and others. Despite all these views, there is a cohesive story, the various threads weaving into a solid whole. It's fascinating to see the disparity between the focus of the stories, from the three wealthy young women who held their fathers in high esteem to the entire robbery storyline. I appreciated the way Marguerite Wells dealt with the aftermath of the fire, determined to try to discover what really happened that fateful day and was impressed with her investigation.

A great work of historical fiction makes me want to research the truth behind the story. INFERNO ON FIFTH did just that, leading me down the rabbit hole as I discovered pictures and even a letter written by Mrs. Pope to her sister detailing the fire.

INFERNO ON FIFTH is a captivating tale that will transport you to the Gilded Age while it forces you to question your own ethics and mortality.

About the Author

Marlie Parker Wasserman writes historical crime fiction, after a career on the other side of the desk in publishing. In addition to Inferno on Fifth, she is the author of The Murderess Must Die and Path of Peril. Marlie lives with her husband in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Sisters in Crime, and the Triangle Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

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