From Edgar-nominated author Lyndsay Faye comes the next book in what Gillian Flynn calls, "a brilliant new mystery series."
Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city's dark practices - until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the "blackbirders," who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.
The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn't just legal - it's law enforcement.
When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy's office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, "My family." Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principles, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.
©2013 Lyndsay Faye (P)2013 Penguin Audio
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Seven for a Secret picks up six months after Gods of Gotham, continuing the story of young Timothy Wilde, the sole detective of the "copper stars," the newly-formed New York City Police. Many of the social concerns and gritty realities of New York City first addressed in Gods of Gotham get deeper exploration here, including the graft and corruption behind Tammany Hall, the ethnic tensions surrounding the Irish question, the helplessness of children in a city run by and for adults, and the tenuous nature of the fledgling police force, threatened from without and within by politics and petty hatreds.
At the heart of this novel is the omnipresent threat of "blackbirders," who specialized in kidnapping blacks, whether free citizens or runaway slaves, and sending them to a life of enslavement in the South. When a young biracial woman rushes into Wilde's office and explains that her family has been stolen, the search and the mystery begins.
Just as The Gods of Gotham turned the spotlight on the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudices of the time, Seven for a Secret considers the constant threat that the institution of slavery posed to black Americans, including those in so-called "free" states, and the bigotry built into the U.S. and New York systems. Lyndsay Faye opens every chapter with a poignant and telling quotation from the period that drives her message home.
The recurring characters such as Wilde's "party boss" brother Valentine, landlady Mrs. Boehm, and friend Julius get further development ("Gentle Jim" nearly stole the show), and the new characters are deeply compelling. New York City itself remains the central figure in the story, and Faye's well-researched and piercing gaze lays it open for the reader.
Steven Boyer's able narration lets the prose shine through.
I'm giving this four stars rather than five, because Timothy Wilde's character rang less true for me in this book than in the first. He seems to have forgotten much of his street savvy, and he repeatedly comes across as far too naive for a man who grew up with only a brother for a parent and then tended bar for years. His confusion and bewilderment serves the reader well -- surely this isn't how things are done? oh, so it is -- but it seems odd in the man who was so capable (if in over his head) in the first novel and so at home in his city.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy this novel, because I did, quite thoroughly. I'll be waiting for the next book in this series with anticipation.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
This is another harrowing story by Lyndsay Faye, the follow-up to The Gods of Gotham, which had one of the first New York City "Copper Stars" Timothy Wilde chasing after a ring of child murderers during a wave of Irish immigrants escaping the great potato famine. Faye certainly knows how to write a compelling story and this novel takes place just six month later, in 1846, in and around the same neighbourhood of NYC formerly known as Five Points, notorious for it's squalid conditions*. This time a beautiful young woman charges into Timothy's police station to declare that he family has just been abducted. It turns out the young woman in question is born from a white father and black slave mother, and the plot centres around the "blackbirders", Southerners who snatch free black people from the North and, claiming they are escaped slaves, deliver them to plantation masters for a large fee. This is presumably what happened to Solomon Northup, who later went on to write Twelve Years a Slave, though I've yet to read that book (currently sitting on the massive TBR) . Our good Timothy is of course an abolitionist at heart, and does all he can to find and release Lucy Adams' little son and her sister, but in the process gets tangled in a messy and dangerous political quagmire, not least because the practice of returning escaped slaves to their owners is what the law of the time is designed to enforce. With the best of intentions, he is horrified when he comes to realize that by his very actions which were aimed at protecting those coloured people he'd taken under his wing, he managed to lead them all instead into an awful tragedy. Timothy's older brother Valentine has a large role to play here, as he did in the first book. Heavily involved with the Democratic party, Valentine has pull and is the one who got Timothy a job in 1845 with the newly founded New York police force, when Timothy had lost everything to the fire which burned out a large part of the city, Timothy's workplace and home and savings, and also part of his face. Where Timothy is essentially a good guy with high moral standards, his older brother is completely dissolute; a morphine addict who sleeps around with prostitutes and anyone he takes a fancy to, including men—at a time when such sexual practices were punishable by death; but all this of course makes him a very intriguing character, not least of all because he also happens to be a brawler and a volunteer firefighter, when both brothers have lost their parents to a terrible fire.
I believe we're in for another instalment sometime in future. I was a bit shocked just now when I googled to see if I could find any info on the next book, that several reviews panned the first book unmercifully, including at Bookslut, whose reviewer was of the opinion that it should never have been written in the first place. Along with the Edgar Award committee (The Gods of Gotham was an Edgar Award Nominee in 2013), I obviously don't agree with Sam Ashworth ("Lyndsay Faye's mistake is that she has staged a generic episode of Law and Order: SVU in a setting that demands far more authorial spine and ambition than she is willing to commit."), and where he finds Faye spilled too much of her research onto the page with little discernment, I find on the contrary that the historical details ring true and add much to the story, and especially enjoy her inclusion of quotes and passages from news articles and publications of that period pertaining to abolitionism and the treatment of slaves, as she did in the first book, which focused on the Irish immigrants who were reviled by locals at the time, all of which adds a factual historical dimension to her narrative. But beyond all that, for my money, she writes the kind of compelling story that I just want to keep reading with as few interruptions as possible.
Steven Boyer does a great job with narration.
* Charles Dickens described Five Points in 1842 in his book American Notes for General Circulation:
"What place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points."
"This is the place; these narrow ways diverging to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear the same fruit as elsewhere. The coarse and bloated faces at the doors have counterparts at home and all the world over."
"Debauchery has made the very houses prematurely old. See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken forays. Many of these pigs live here. Do they ever wonder why their masters walk upright instead of going on all fours, and why they talk instead of grunting?" (From Wikipedia)
I found myself gritting my teeth at times because of how closely this book mirrored her first book, by which I was thoroughly charmed, but I think I was hoping this second book would reach a little further. Val is by far the most interesting and developed character, with the hero of the story constantly expressing his negative feelings for Val, his bro. In all fairness,, the story line has moved a little in that at least now the hero's feelings are a little more complex and less black and white toward his brother, but not enough for my taste.
I enjoy historical fiction, so little bits and pieces of what life was like in NYC, one of my favorite cities, is always nice to have. It was not all that long ago, yet times were very, very hard for so many people. The Irish were considered absolute trash, nice to remember when we get on our high horse about undesirable immigrants in these days.
The narrator does a good job. I have no problem seeing him as main character. I also like how he does the female parts - no silly falsetto but he is nonetheless convincing. I will look for other books narrated by him. I'm not sure but that he may be the main thing I like about the author's books!
It was, but I hope her 3rd book is a little less annoying.
Nurse. Yarn snob. Bookworm. Cat lover. Color enthusiast. Fabric collector. Gardener
Steven Boyer does a wonderful job giving individual voices to the characters in the story. Each character appears as a unique person to me with the way he can distinguish between each one with the change of his voice.
This performance was just as wonderful as that of God's of Gotham. I felt as if I had picked up just as I left off in the first novel.
As much as I love Timothy Wilde, I would have to choose his brother, Val. I am forever intrigued by him - at once disgusted by his brutish nature but then charmed by his gestures of kindness.
Another fantastic mystery from Lyndsay Faye set in the bustling 19th century metropolis that we've come to know as Manhattan. I quite love envisioning Manhattan as the bubbling cauldron of people and animals and lawlessness that it was in the 1800's. How quickly things seem to change in only a century!
I really really enjoyed Gods of Gotham and had hoped for a sequel. I love historical mystery novels when they are 1) well-researched and 2) are not a sappy hybrid between mystery and bodice-ripping romance novel. Faye's work satisfies on all accounts. Both of these books bring to mind the brilliant-but-cancelled BBC drama "Copper". Can't wait for more!
Very highs up in the mystery field. In the top 10 certainly.
I love the Wilde brothers. Tim and Val are both multifaceted and complex characters. I'm a fan of the BBC America series Copper, and it is of a similar flavor. New York City before the Civil War is a fascinating place and this book opens a window onto Northern views of slavery and the South.
Any time Tim and Val are together.
I've no idea.
The is the second book featuring these characters. I'd highly recommend you listen to Gods of Gotham first. I really hope the author is hard at work on the next installment.
Fantastic writing and great narration
Gods of Gotham, prequel
passion and great acting voice.
The whole story was terrific
I have read all three books by Lindsay Faye, and will read anything else she writes. She is a very talented writer, with a passion and amazing capacity for researching for her material.I'm hooked!
The story was great and loved how the reader told the story. The historical accuracy was most appreciated and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Faye. You'll enjoy The Gods of Gotham as well and I plan on purchaing her new Sherlock Holmes book.
Valentine was my favorite character but Mr. Boyer did a great job at all the characters.
Before NYPD Blue there was Copper Star.
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