Book Review #62: Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye

21 Sep

This is the best mystery I’ve read this year. Set in New York City in 1845, Timothy Wilde and his unpredictable but highly political brother Val find themselves among the first police officers in NYC. One of the last major cities to form and fund a police force, the cities residents aren’t necessarily fond of the new “copper stars.”

What is the role of the police in our society? Something I’ve always taken for granted is that cops do two things: they prevent crime, and they solve crimes after they happen. In this historical fiction novel, in the early days of the police force, they had to spend their extremely limited resources on preventing crime. Protagonist Timothy Wilde proves himself far more adept at solving crimes.

During his first patrol, Timothy encounters a young girl covered in blood, and takes her home to secure her safety. This little girl, Bird, was a child prostitute working in the city who leads Timothy to a graveyard filled with the bodies of 19 children, almost surely other child prostitutes, with giant crosses cut in their midsection. Timothy finds himself trying to untangle the mystery, making enemies of politically powerful madams, his own brother, and trying to navigate the complicated religious politics (Catholic v. Protestant) of the time. 

The ending is pretty awesome. There are enough clues throughout the book that if you’re really keeping score, you’ll figure out the key players involved. But this mystery is not even a little bit as it seems. I was certain that this book would have a neat, standard mystery style ending that was relatively predictable. But the author goes off in another direction altogether, and it’s far more satisfying. It plays on the historical details of the time, and it feels far more realistic than a run of the mill, cut and dry ending.

Even the seemingly predictable love story doesn’t turn out at all how you’d imagine. The winding up and conclusion of this book really made an impression on me – I can’t wait to go back and read more of Faye’s work. Definitely worth a read!

 

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One Response to “Book Review #62: Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye”

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  1. HelloKatieO’s Review #62: Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye « Cannonball Read IV - September 21, 2012

    […] For more… Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookEmailDiggStumbleUpon Posted by HelloKatieO in 5 stars – a favorite and tagged CBR4, hellokatieo, historical fiction, Lindsay Faye, New York City […]

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