S.M. Goodwin

Coming September 7, 2021: Book 2 in the Lightner & Law Series

Albert Beauchamp disappeared just before Christmas in 1856. When he reappears more than a year later, he’s in several pieces, packed in salt in a shipping crate in New Orleans. NYC inspectors Jasper Lightner and his partner, Hieronymus Law, are called in to investigate–but the further they dig into the wealthy financier’s background, the dirtier the story gets. On the surface, Beauchamp had a lot of friends. But, as they discover, each had a good reason to hate him.

Beauchamp’s last will and testament–stashed away in a safety deposit box, along with a king’s ransom in jewels–yields few clues, but Jasper and Hy discover something even more valuable: a little black book filled with names, dates, and a cache of damning details.

Following a trail of leads that reaches back to the early 1840s, the detectives uncover a sordid litany of high society scandals that still threatens the city’s moneyed establishment. And the shadowy figure who knows their dirtiest secrets re-emerges with a devious new plan that goes far beyond simple blackmail.

The dark shadows grow longer as Jasper and Hy close in on the truth–and a killer lies in wait for his ultimate prey.

Book 1 in the Lightner & Law Series:

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A string of grisly murders in Pre-Civil War New York propels an unlikely pair of detectives into a deadly tinderbox in S. M. Goodwin’s debut novel, a sure hit for fans of Will Thomas and C. S. Harris.

Jasper Lightner is a decorated Crimean War hero and the most admired inspector in London’s Metropolitan Police. Along with a chest full of medals, he’s got a head injury that’s left large chunks of his memory missing. But Jasper’s biggest problem is his father, the Duke of Kersey, who, enraged by a series of front-page newspaper stories extolling Jasper’s exploits, decides he’s had enough of the embarrassment and uses his political connections to keep his son out of the headlines–and off the police force.

Jasper is sent packing to New York City on a year-long assignment to train detectives, and discovers a police department hovering on the brink of armed conflict. Assigned to investigate the murder of philanthropist and reformer Stephen Finch, Jasper joins forces with a man who might be even more of an outsider than he is: Hieronymus Law, a detective who had investigated two almost identical killings–and who is rumored to have taken money to help frame an innocent woman for murder.

Law is bent on restoring his good name. But can Jasper trust Hy enough to bring him into the investigation? As the city devolves into madness and law enforcement falls into the hands of dangerous gangs, this unlikely team has no choice but to work together to pursue an adversary more sinister than either has faced alone.

Praise for Absence of Mercy:

“With captivating characters, luscious writing and intrigue around every corner, S.M. Goodwin’s debut historical mystery is destined to be among the most talked about of the year. Rich. Resonant. Enigmatic. Just a fantastic, fantastic read!” 
Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Charley Davidson series

“S.M. Goodwin serves up the perfect historical mystery brew; a captivating sleuth, a diabolical plot, and a vivid sense of place and time. Satisfying yet highly addictive!”
Dianne Freeman, award-winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mystery series

“Well-drawn characters and a gruesome plot make this a series debut that will appeal to hardened mystery fans.”
Tessa Harris, award-winning author of the Dr. Thomas Silkstone mysteries

“S.M. Goodwin spins a dark, suspenseful tale that vividly captures the world of pre-Civil War New York City…This is a fabulous launch to what is sure to be a long-running series!” 
Edwin Hill, Edgar and Agatha-nominated author of Watch Her

S.M.’s debut historical mystery takes place in 1857 Manhattan

What was going on in New York City in 1857?

There were over 800,000 people in the city and more arriving every day.

There were 70 banks, 106 insurance companies, 11 telegraph lines, 7 lines of railroad intersected the city, 18 steamboat lines, and 351 newspapers!

To accommodate the exploding population city leaders devised a plan to build a park to rival those in Europe’s most prestigious cities.

To make way for the new Central Park the entire town of Seneca Village, the first free Black community in NYC, was destroyed.

Here is a map of the layout of Central Park and Seneca Village (courtesy of the National Park Service)

1857 was the year 2 police departments warred for supremacy in a battle that led all the way to the steps of City Hall. Tensions between the two departments didn’t end even after the arrest of Mayor Fernando Wood.

Here is a map showing New York City precincts

The infamous Dead Rabbits Riot marked the peak (or low point, depending on how one views such things) of police conflict in July of 1857.

The Panic of 1857, sparked in part by political unrest throughout the nation, was the worst economic depression in American history and is widely considered the first global depression.

And of course 1857 is the year Lord Jasper Lightner, youngest son of the Duke of Kersey, comes to New York City to instruct detectives in the Metropolitan Police Department in the new science of criminal detection.

All in all, I’d say 1857 was a pretty exciting year. . .