Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Book review: In the Shadow of Gotham, Stephanie Pintoff
I picked up this book on recommendation from my blogging buddy, Kwizgiver. It's a historical crime novel set in New York City in 1905.
Young, intelligent and pretty mathematics student Sarah Wingate is found brutally murdered in her bed, and Detective Simon Ziele, formerly of the NYC police department and newly arrived in the small village of Dobson, north of the City, arrives at the scene. The investigation leads Ziele back to the City, into the environment he had left behind after his fiancee was killed in the General Slocum boat fire disaster that also left him with a damaged right arm.
Ziele joins forces with criminologist Alistair Sinclair and his beautiful, widowed daughter-in-law to locate the killer, who may or may not be a patient of Alistair's.
I found the story to be intricate and the environment of 1905 New York to be very well-described. Ziele and Sinclair make use of fingerprinting, crime scene photography and criminology at a time when these sciences were still in their infancy. I would have liked to see a bit deeper into the characters, a little more of their thought process. Although given the etiquette of the time, it may be that the author is only giving us what that era's propriety would allow.
At any rate, the story was very readable, and I was transported into the grit and glitter of 1905 New York. Pintoff has created a series out of the adventures of Simon Ziele, and I plan to read the next ones as well.