Sarah Brandt, a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York City, receives a note requesting she call at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Linton. When Sarah arrives at the Linton’s home, she learns that they wish her to examine their daughter Grace. Grace is 17 years old, but has the mental capacity of a five year old. Sarah confirms their fear. Grace is pregnant. The Linton’s claim this is impossible, as Grace never leaves their home alone, all the household servants are women, and if Grace does go out, it is always with her mother. Grace is never alone with a man. When Sarah speaks with Grace, she learns that Grace has no idea how a woman even gets pregnant, and denies that a man has ever hurt her in any way.
Sarah enlists her friend, Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy, to speak with Mr. Linton and see if he can figure out who attacked Grace, and eventually, charge that person and throw him in jail. Malloy and Mr. Linton reluctantly agree to meet, but no answers are revealed. The only place where Grace has met any boys or men is at the Linton’s church, The Church of the Good Shepherd
Malloy decides to visit the church. When he arrives he finds a group of young boys cleaning the sanctuary. The minister of the church, Reverend Oliver Upchurch, tells Malloy that he runs an after school program for fatherless boys to keep them out of trouble. Upchurch is insulted when Malloy tells him that suspects one of the boys may be the father of Grace Linton's baby and denies that any of these boys could be the father. Although Malloy has no further angles to investigate, he cannot shake the feeling that Upchurch is hiding something. On her own, Sarah goes to the church to see for herself if she can uncover anything further. There she meets Rachel, Reverend Upchurch’s wife. Later, when Sarah pays a visit to Rachel, Rachel gives Sarah a cryptic message, which, when Sarah and Malloy finally figure out, tells them that Upchurch is a pedophile. The word spreads through the families whose boys have been abused, and the parishioners take the matter into their own hands to punish Upchurch and run him out of town. Their way of punishing Upchurch is usual, but very effective, and Upchurch winds up dead. Not what the parishioners envisioned, but for which no one is sorry. Now Malloy must find the killer, and there is no lack of people willing to take the blame. The killer is eventually determined, but that doesn’t answer the initial question: who got Grace pregnant? The solution revealed at the end is a surprise, but is really the only logical answer.
Murder on Lenox Hill is a fun read, with just enough twists to keep the reader engaged and rooting for the parishioners and sympathizing with Grace. Although this is the seventh book in this Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson, it can certainly be enjoyed on its own as a pay-back-the-bad-guy sort of novel.