It is 1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.
Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new "police force". And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward - at the border of Five Points, the world's most notorious slum.
One night, while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl - a girl not more than 10 years old - dashing through the dark in her nightshift... covered head to toe in blood.
Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can't bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn't sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.
©2012 Lyndsay Faye (P)2012 Penguin Audio
It was time well spent because the characters are interesting and the narrator was great! I was disappointed however in the second half of the book in which all of the loose ends were just thrown together.
Probably best at dramatizing the very rough nature of life in big cities then, focusing on the extra strains in NYC caused by the immigration of so many poor Irish and the anti-Catholic zealots who opposed them. The drama and crime around which the setting is described is itself not so compelling, though refreshingly open minded and liberal (in the old sense). Narrator is superb.
This provides good historical atmosphere for fans of NYC (I am one).
The widow baker is a minor character but provides a nice touchstone for the society.
The author makes a few of the characters a little too heroic (or deeply villainous)... the striving social worker/writer, the priest, the doctor, the new "cops" on the nascent police force. The strength of the story is the atmosphere, the setting of a burgeoning new city filled with people striving, with success and failure.
The narrator is excellent and gives sympathetic life to Timothy Wilde. The early days of the NYC PD are quite revealing. Tim's naive goodness is a little unbelievable, and the rampant bribery, prostitution, murder in this period of extreme religious intolerance and dirty politics are painted very black. Still, this portrait of New York City in a turbulent time holds the reader's interest through most of the story.
This book can hold its own in the field of Historic Fiction, but, in the end, the sensationalism of the mystery becomes somewhat repetitive and tedious.
The color and life of Manhattan in 1845 come alive with the narration--Boyer's grasp of the various accents of the city add a lot to the story.
I do not see this as a movie, but it might make a good short series on PBS.
HIstorical novel set in 1844 when the New York police department is just being set up and the bad side of New York, Five Points, is worse than the worst parts of London. Faye has the history right, the characters nicely developed and a fast-paced yarn to tell.
It is 1845 New York City with its politics and diverse groups of immigrants. The city has just divested itself of a corrupt and ineffective attempt at a police force. A new force, with the men called “copper stars” and wearing stars, is being appointed. It is to be neutral, not tied to any political group and to include Americans from across the immigrant spectrum. Tim is a bartender who has been saving money so he can ask Mercy, a minister’s daughter, to marry him. But a huge fire breaks out in downtown New York, and, among other things, destroys Timothy’s lodging and thus his saved money. He is burned and permanently scarred in the fire. Permanently disfigured in the face, homeless, and now unemployable as a bartender, his brother talks him into taking a job as one of the copper stars. He turns out to be very good at investigating crimes and solving them. One day a little girl attaches herself to him. She comes from one of the “houses” where men go to lay with adult and children prostitutes. She says that someone has been “torn to pieces.” Tim hears about the crime at work and connects it to her. Tim and his brother, with family secrets they’ve never revealed to each other, work together with the police chief and a couple of other people to track down what is really happening. They uncover 19 partial bodies of children which have been buried. One of the major madams is also a big giver to the democratic party, so Tim is initially not allowed to go after her or possible accomplices. This is a very good book about early New York City when politics and anarchy ruled.
I like historical fiction and "Gods of Gotham" is a great example of the genre. The characters are well written, the period felt very well research. This is a period I pretty much know nothing about so I can't really judge the accuracy but to me it felt like I could see, hear and smell New York in 1845.
However, the really outstanding thing about this audiobook is the narrator Steven Boyer. The way he is able to change his inflection and accent really makes you feel like you are standing in a room full of Irish and American's, doctors and prostitutes. This was the first book I heard narrated by Boyer but I will definitely see whether there are others that I might be interested in.
Perfect combination of excellent story line, well-developed characters, great pacing. The author displays a knowledge of history and language that makes it fun to look things up and never seems like it isn't pertinent to the story.
It totally drew me in and gave me a sense of being transported to a different time. There is nothing predictable, cliche or overdone about it.
Flawless performance, as far as I'm concerned. Again - nothing is annoyingly overdone. No verbal equivalent of "mugging" or bad acting. His accents are great. I'm really, really impressed. Over 60 audio books in, this one takes the cake.
I wasn't completely convinced by the listening sample. It was about Bird and not told from the same perspective as the rest of the book. When it switches to Tim's perspective about 5 minutes in, it really takes off.
I find this novel lacking a real edge to the story. I believe it was compared to The Alienist but I beg to differ. This book doesn't provide an edgy Gangs Of New York feel to the writing and this was disappointing. The author uses the slang used by criminals of the day but it lacks the true grit of street life. Where are the vivid descriptions of the crime sites? This is "murder lite"
work at a job that lets me listen to books all day I like history, good mysteries and humor
This is a good novel for those who enjoy historical fiction. The story is entertaining and the narrator I found quite enjoyable
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