"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Gods of Gotham

TITLE: The Gods of Gotham
AUTHOR: Lyndsay Faye

When I bought this book, I had no idea it was the first in a series, but I'm happy to discover there are at least two more available for met to read. Set in 1845 New York, this mystery uses to good advantage three historical happenings: a devastating fire that destroyed much of lower Manhattan, the potato famine in Ireland that brought large amounts of Irish immigrants to New York that led to a Protestant-Catholic conflict, and the formation of the New York Police Department. Upon reading the Historical Afterward, I learned a smaller incident, that of the discovery of the body of a murdered infant that sets the tone for the book is also based on reality.

The protagonist is Timothy Wilde, a bartender-turned-copper star of the newly minted NYPD after he's burned in the aforementioned fire and lost his home and savings. Thrust into a case of missing and dead children who were working as prostitutes in one of the bawdy houses, he comes to realize he has real skill at getting to the truth of things. Throw in a complicated relationship with his older, politically connected brother and some social commentary, and the reader is treated with the presence of a wonderful character I sure want to spend more time with. The first half of the 19th Century in New York City is a period with which I'm not very familiar, as it was mostly skipped over back when I was in school, but thanks to this book, I feel I've gotten a bit of education. A good work of historical fiction inspires me to read up on the events covered in the book, and The Gods of Gotham is no exception.