Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Gods of Gotham
Just arrived in the shop - a first novel by the co-author of Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings. As you can see - I liked it.
Gods of Gotham by Lindsay Faye
Hardback at £14.99
This atmospheric fictional tale set at the very beginnings of what we now know as the NYPD has everything. A touching love affair with a very surprising twist, characters that are all larger than life but entirely believable, an admirable hero who has a nice line in commentary, and a dark body-littered plot. With all that it boasts true originality, even the slang language that the reader learns as he reads is unlikely to be found elsewhere.
So, Alfie, what’s it all about?
It is a New York, full of corruption, prostitution, drunkenness and of the poorest of Irish immigrants where barman, Timothy Wilde, is caught up in a terrible fire and scarred for life. He has lost his looks and his savings in the fire and, in doing so, also loses all hope of marrying Mercy Underhill, the Reverend’s daughter. Mercy does her rounds giving charity to the desperate poor, even to the house of child prostitutes run by Silkie Marsh, unsurprisingly amid such corruption, a woman of power.
It is Timothy’s hated brother Valentine who drums him into the newly forming ‘Police Force’ and he finds his natural place in the world. A place where he can lick his wounds and find a use for himself. His qualities are soon required when he finds a young blood-soaked girl escaping from Silkie and a young boy’s body is discovered, suffering horrific wounds. Timothy takes time to piece all the clues together but there are enough of them when a veritable graveyard of little bodies are discovered. Shock after shock is revealed before Timothy cracks the case and fences are mended, others broken in a very surprising way.
Timothy is a brilliant creation whose humour and wit are sprinkled about generously and his decidedly bigger brother, though having a very different philosophy, is also memorable. Indeed, there are a dozen characters that stay in the mind, long after the book is put down. Timothy even has his own ‘Baker Street Irregulars’! The plot, too, is original but it is perhaps, New York which is the brightest star. A very different New York to that of today but, I’m sure, every bit as real, with all its humour and its horrors.
A debut of great richness and deserving of great success.