In _The Waterworks_ E.L. Doctorow tries his hand in writing a mystery and the results are fairly successful. Doctorow is no stranger to period pieces, as all of his readship knows. It is circa 1871, in New York City and the notorious Tweed Ring is very much in control of the Democratic Party's Tammany Hall and much of everything else that matters. In _The Waterworks_ the narrator, Mr. McIlvaine, the city editor of a New York newspaper, while endeavoring to investigate the disappearance of Martin Pemberton, a freelance critic, unwittingly assists in efforts to ovethrow Boss Tweed and his gang. Besides being quite atmospheric and evocative of that era, the book is loaded with colorful characters, including the fabulously wealthy, but dastadly Augustus Pemberton (father of Martin), who is presumed dead but occasionally shows up in the most unlikely places, the incorruptible Captain Donne (a possible former love interest to Martin's widowed mother), and the very shadowy and mad scientist-like Dr. Sartorius, who figures strongly in some strange doings regarding a number of street urchins and some very wealthy, but very sickly old men. There is a graveyard scene in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx that, although somewhat familiar to fans of the horror genre, may cause some readers' hair to stand on end. The plot contains no particular surprises or innovations in the mystery-horror realm of novels, but is nevertheless fairly well written and held my interest. Mr. Doctorow does, however, give away the solution to the mystery too soon, thereby dampening somewhat the novel's impact. He would done better by waiting to the very end to reveal this, rather than choosing the ending he did, however charming.