The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The year 1845 heralded the birth of the New York City Police Department and the rise of the Great Famine in Ireland, which sent waves of immigrants to the United States and fueled Protestant-Catholic tensions.  This is the environment shaping Lyndsay Faye’s new historical mystery, The Gods of Gotham, the first in a new series.  As the story opens, we meet Timothy Wilde, a bartender who is methodically saving his money with the hopes of marrying Mercy Underhill, his long-admired friend, aspiring author, and charity worker.  When a massive fire sweeps though Manhattan, Tim’s life is changed abruptly by disfigurement and the loss of his job, home, and savings.  With extreme reservations, Tim accepts a position secured for him by his politically-connected elder brother as a “copper star” in the newly formed NYPD, patrolling the 6th Ward and the notorious Five Points slum.  One night Tim collides with a little girl whose nightclothes are soaked in blood, telling him seemingly wild tales of dead children buried in the woods.  Thus, Tim is launched on his first major investigation.  By the time he’s through he’ll have several run-ins with his tumultuous elder brother, be forced to reassess everything he knows about Miss. Underhill, find himself pitted against those promoting nativist sentiments, and become intimately familiar with NYC’s dark underbelly.  Lush in period detail and dialect, Faye’s new novel is a great match for fans of Caleb Carr.

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