The Unsealing: Love, Lust, and Murder in the Gilded Age

The Unsealing: Love, Lust, and Murder in the Gilded Age

by Robert Brighton

Narrated by Robert Brighton

Unabridged — 13 hours, 26 minutes

The Unsealing: Love, Lust, and Murder in the Gilded Age

The Unsealing: Love, Lust, and Murder in the Gilded Age

by Robert Brighton

Narrated by Robert Brighton

Unabridged — 13 hours, 26 minutes

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Named BookLife Editor's Pick - "... Written with grace and power, capturing the moment that electricity lit up the world ..."

*"An addictive page-turner with rich historical details ..." - Kirkus Reviews

A gripping, lush, immersive historical mystery inspired by a 'true crime of the century' that shocked the world, set against the 1901 Pan-American Exposition.*This is the first novel - the origin story - in the Avenging Angel Detective Agency¿ Mysteries from award-winning author Robert Brighton - as much a 'whydunit' as a 'whodunit' in a page-turning story culminating in a murder that leaves readers wanting more.

Buffalo, New York, 1901 ... a muscular, young city, Queen of the Lakes ... The Electric City ... where the money that builds Newport mansions and Park Avenue townhouses is made, plays host to the world's greatest fair, the Pan-American Exposition and its 8,000,000 guests ...

And less than a mile from the great spectacle, a web of love, lust, and intrigue is forming among the young, elite Ashwood Set.*Alicia and Edward Miller may be one of Ashwood's most envied couples, but as their marriage curdles, simmering and sultry Alicia falls for dashing, young attorney Arthur Pendle, on whose mysterious income he and his longsuffering wife - facing demons of their own - live fast and high ...

But life is never fast enough, or high enough, for the Ashwood Set, who plunge headlong into a deadly whirlpool of official corruption, financial deceit, and infidelity which can only end in disaster ... while the fate of beautiful, aspiring sleuth Sarah Payne and her Avenging Angel Detective Agency hang precariously in the balance.

Pitting detective against detective, husband against wife, and set against the backdrop of Gilded Age splendor and excess, The Unsealing is a gripping, psychological tale of forbidden pleasures and fathomless pain.

Editorial Reviews

BookLife Reviews


Immersing readers in the ash-and-electric light wonders of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in that up-and-coming city of Buffalo, NY, Brighton’s vigorous historical novel blends mystery and romance. It bursts with fascinating detail, character, incident, and something rarer still—that sense that a well-told tale actually manages to brush up against some truth of how life used to be lived. Brighton opens with a vision of two wonders of the age: the electric chair and an early electric car. He then demonstrates, via that car’s immediate destruction, that there’s nothing precious in The Unsealing’s depiction of the past. That zest for surprise persists as the story gets up to speed, centered on the ambitions of lawyer-turned-fixer Arthur Pendle. The grimy reality of politics is contrasted with the life of Sarah Payne, “the lovely young wife” of a dentist she considers handsome but dull, who’s caught up in the scandals of the smart set of the Ashwood Social Club.

At Ashwood, ragtime and waltzes get the blood worked up—even of those married to others. Brighton deftly captures the champagne ennui of Sarah’s social scene, the brittle chatter and secret (and not-so-secret) longings and pairings, and the pleasure of good gossip. Sarah, who is navigating a tempting friendship with wealthy businessman Edward, discovers Arthur’s infidelities with Edward’s wife, as her own husband, Seth, has become frighteningly dependent on the ether his profession allows him to possess.

Readers expecting a traditional mystery plot should be advised that Brighton’s story builds toward a murder rather than from one. That doesn’t mean this is a slow burn, though. The efforts of these characters to find happiness and oblivion, to cover their sins, and maybe to make themselves and their city and their century into something new—all this is written with grace and power, capturing the moment that electricity lit up the world.

Takeaway: Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January series, Lauren Belfer’s City of Light.

Great for fans of: This electric historical novel finds the social set of Buffalo jolted by scandal in 1901.

Production grades Cover: A Design and typography: A Illustrations: N/A Editing: A Marketing copy: A

From the Publisher

"The Unsealing…bursts with with fascinating detail, character, [and] incident…Brighton deftly captures the champagne ennui of [a] social scene jolted by scandal…brittle chatter and secret longings building to a murder…written with grace and power, capturing the moment that electricity lit up the world…"

- BookLife Reviews Editor's Pick

"...A skillful storyteller, the author mixes sardonic commentary and well-scripted dialogue.... An addictive page-turner with rich historical details and vivid, flawed characters..."

- Kirkus Reviews

"...exciting, quick-paced, intriguing...with a fantastic atmosphere and strong characters, this is a sensational story that fans of thrillers and well-drawn mysteries will surely enjoy...The Unsealing is a thrilling story that will keep you turning one page after the other from start to finish..." 5/5 - Literary Titan

“…Robert Brighton has written a story that catches the reader’s attention from the opening overture to the last page of the book…intrigue, murder, romance, love lost, ill-gotten gains, blackmail, greed, and guilt…Brighton waltzes these characters throughout the story…this is a must-read…it kept me up at night to finish it…” 5/5

- Readers’ Favorite

Kirkus Reviews

Greed, political corruption, and lust propel this dark novel set in Buffalo, New York.

Arthur Pendle and Terence Penrose are roommates and best friends during college and law school in New Haven, Connecticut. After graduation, they travel together to Buffalo, where, in 1889, they open Pendle & Penrose, Attorneys at Law, a flourishing practice that for eight years provides both with a substantial living. Terry is the rainmaker and Arthur is the legal whiz—until 1897, when Terry is offered the position of district attorney for Erie County. As Terry’s star rises, Arthur’s solo law practice dwindles. Then Terry makes an offer Arthur cannot afford to refuse. And as Arthur’s income increases exponentially, his commitment to the righteousness of the legal profession slips into history. Back at home, Arthur’s wife, Cassie, an offspring of one of New England’s wealthiest families, has her own issues. Despite the couple’s high social standing, Cassie is emotionally insecure and uncomfortable with people. Regrettably, she has found a source of comfort—opium and a variety of other drugs of the day. Across town, in an avant-garde community known as Ashwood, are Alicia and Edward Miller. Their fraying marriage contributes to the next phase of Arthur’s ultimate downfall. Once he meets the tempting Alicia at the Ashwood Social Club (“On the dance floor, Alicia Hall Miller’s dainty feet and petite frame made her look like a ballerina, small and strong and lithe”), his enchantment with her becomes obsessive. Brighton’s gritty series opener rips off Buffalo’s elite, shiny facade during the Gilded Age. A skillful storyteller, the author mixes sardonic commentary and well-scripted dialogue to control a plotline in which the primary characters become inexorably trapped by their own greatest weaknesses. Lead protagonist Arthur is the most fully developed. Readers are drawn step by step through the moral deterioration of a man driven to reckless decisions by arrogance, a craving for wealth, and a passion for Alicia. Unfortunately, Cassie, potentially a complex character, is only minimally explored. There are no heroes here, although there are a few survivors. And after all the emotional turmoil, jealously, violence, and broken lives, the riveting narrative ends with a humorous, intriguing wink to readers.

An addictive page-turner with rich historical details and vivid, flawed characters.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940191615622
Publisher: Ashwood Press
Publication date: 02/14/2024
Series: The Avenging Angel Detective Agency¿ Mysteries , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
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