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 ten years old - dashing through the dark in her nightshirt... 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.
Faye's characterizations are also extraordinary. Her main character, Timothy Wilde, has the potential to become a literary staple ala Hercule Poirot or Adam Dalgliesh. He's a brilliant creation: smart, observant, brave, and someone who fights for the underdog, yet he's damaged and has a lot of emotional baggage. He's intelligent and talented without being arrogant, and altogether a very likeable young man. The character has clearly been inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but Wilde's edges are softer, making him more human and fallible but without crossing the line into caricature or cartoon. Additionally - and perhaps more challenging for an author to accomplish - he continues to grow over the course of the novel. This is what makes Wilde such a compelling protagonist. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Starred Review. Vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of a twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr. Readers will look forward to the sequel.
The Wilde brothers are a valiantly flawed pair whose adventures dramatically light up this turbulent era. Faye's use of flash, an underground language akin to thieves' cant (British criminal jargon), further enriches this engrossing historical thriller, the first in a new series.
Matthew Pearl, bestselling author of The Dante Club
Lyndsay Faye is a superstar-caliber writer. She confidently and exquisitely re-creates the past while her characters live on with you in the present, the elusive gold standard for a historical novel. Gods of Gotham is a gift to the genre that readers will surely relish while we wait for Faye's next one
Katherine Howe, bestselling author of The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane
Lyndsay Faye's exquisite new novel, The Gods of Gotham, plunges us into the teeming, sordid streets of Old New York... Faye's prose crackles with historical authenticity so cunningly rendered that readers will lose themselves from the very first turn of the page.
Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The God of the Hive and The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Intriguingly complex yet deliciously smooth, The Gods of Gotham is, in a word, stunning. The vivid characters and deft use of the historical setting read like the work of an established writer at the top of her (or, indeed, his) career - that Faye is a newcomer is cause for an exuberance of fireworks, at the mere thought of so many superb novels yet to come.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Diane S. Gods of Gotham This was a fantastic historical mystery taking place in 1852 New York City. The potato famine has caused hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants to flock to New York, causing untoward problems between the protestants and the newly arrived... Read More
In Lyndsay Faye's novel, The Gods of Gotham, a fire ravages lower Manhattan, setting the stage for her suspenseful historical mystery. In reality, New York City has fallen victim to more than one devastating blaze.
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