Friday, February 17, 2012

The Gods of Gotham-Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham

Lyndsay Faye

Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Mar 15 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780399158377

In 1845 Irish immigrants flee the potato famine back home to inundate New York City. The newcomers struggle to adapt to their new world.

Twenty-something Timothy Wilde tends bar near the downtown Manhattan Exchange until a devastating inferno left him scarred; without dreams, a job and homeless. His older politically connected brother arranges for him to receive a copper star as a policeman on the newly created New York force. Skeptical and bitter, Timothy hates his beat is the horrific slum, the Sixth Ward. As he completes his disheartening night rounds, Timothy sees a young girl running in a nightshift with blood all over her. Feeling for the child, he breaks the rules of don’t get emotionally involved by taking her home with him instead of dumping her at the House of Refuge. She tells him an insane story of bodies buried in the wilderness above 23rd Street. Unable to resist he finds the gruesome truth, as he investigates a case in which he must keep the Irish and the Democratic Party out of the inquiry if he wants his loved ones and himself to survive.

This is an excellent historical mystery that brings to life New York at a time of mass Irish immigration becoming the backbone of a Tammany hall spoils system. The investigation is fast-paced, but driven by a strong cast to include the city (a forest in Manhattan means to this former Bronx resident German Forest Cake in the Germantown bakeries) and the beginning of NYPD. The whodunit has enough suspects to fill The Battery as Lyndsay Faye provides a great nineteenth century whodunit.

Harriet Klausner

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