Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gods of Gotham

The Gods of Gotham
Lyndsay Faye

I reported on Faye's Sherlock mystery Dust and Shadow in a recent post and found it very fine, if Sherlock did seem a bit too high strung. And Sherlock is hot!

I just finished her more recent Gods of Gotham and I found it excellent. Fans of the Alienist and Gangs of New York will find it familiar territory. Descriptive and enchanting but also horrifying as Irish children working as prostitutes are apparently being murdered and cut apart. It's set during a time when Irish immigrants flood into the city in the wake of the potato famine, threatening "Americans," with their strange religion and different ways.

Tim Wilde, a bartender and burn victim, takes up the copper star of the new police force. Gods is a great read if you like thick atmosphere and historical settings and language, such as its use of the "flash" thieves cant or slang, and the dark visions of the city in the 19th century. Having read a little of that history and about the archaeology of the 19th century Five Points slum, I know Ms. Faye's research is meticulous and rich. She also brings to life a fascinating cast of characters, both real and fictional, from the real police chief Mattson to the fictional Wilde brothers, Mercy Underhill, Bird Daly, Mrs. Boehm, the child newsboys and child prostitutes, and the wild assortment of "copper stars" the early NYPD of 1845. This is very good stuff.

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