I initially became interested in this book when Jen from Devourer of Books hosted it as one of her monthly BOOK CLUB selections. I was lucky enough to get picked to participate in the discussion, which can be found here. I wasn’t sure if this book was going to be a success with me because I was unsure of the ratio of mystery thriller to historical fiction that the book would provide. When I started reading, all my cares melted away and I was immediately grabbed by the book’s potent and portentous narrative. It ended up being one of my favorite historical reads of the year so far, which I totally wasn’t expecting. I have to commend Faye for creating a story that was unexpectedly ensnaring and grittily beguiling.
Tim is a genuinely nice guy with a knack for eliciting confidences and a habit of noticing the imperceptible habits and traits of the customers he serves at the bar. Though he’s tough, he has a soft spot for one woman whom he desires above all others. He is the polar opposite of his brother Valentine, a man who is neck deep in politics and all kinds of nefarious and shady business all over town. In fact, Val thoroughly disgusts Tim, and through a very tumultuous set of events, the two become somewhat intertwined through the institution of the newly formed police force. Tim is not happy to be a copper star but he feels it’s the only solution left to him, and though he does his work with pride, he’s harboring a lot of resentment towards Val for unknown but powerful reasons.
When the bloody child steps out of the night and into Tim’s arms, all manner of hell begins to reign down. Not only are there problems within the city due to the flood of immigrants, the Democratic Party is trying to keep its toehold in the city, and that means money and influence are needed. Add to this roiling pot of confusion the fact that the city’s population isn’t interested in being hemmed in by lawmen. They’ve been happily causing a ruckus for as long as anyone can remember and the copper stars are not well regarded. When the little girl finally begins to tell her haunting story, it’s almost too horrible to be believed. But is it the truth or just another fabrication devised to win sympathy from the man who plucked her out of oblivion and given her a new start? Each of these plot lines was deliciously melded into a wild and unstoppable narrative that still managed to be composed and earnest.
Towards the conclusion of the book, everything begins to rapidly spin out of control for Tim and everyone else in the town. Explosive turns of events take place that make the reader question each and every character’s motives and loyalties, and each revelation is more shocking than the last. It was a heady mix of action and contemplation and I grew more and more enveloped in what was happening, until the final climactic ending that had me applauding Faye’s brave character motives and narrative choices. This was a book that I wanted to go on forever and I would have been happy to read another 400 pages with Tim as my guide through this New York of the past. I happily discovered that there is a sequel in the works and I’m going to be lining up to grab that book as soon as I hear of its release.
I can’t recommend this book heartily enough, and those readers who are put off by historical fiction would find a bevy of entertaining aspects to this book—the major one being that this is a mystery/thriller as well as a work of historical fiction. There’s not much more to say about this book other than my noting of the fact that this is probably one of the best works of historical mystery that I have ever read. Bravo, Ms. Faye. You have created a world that I would be very reluctant to inhabit but that I couldn’t stop from falling headlong into anyway. Highly recommended for all types of readers.
This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.