Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
I have read a number of books over the last few years about New York City, at different periods. This book takes place in 1845 and deals with the founding of the police department, and the beginning influx of Irish Catholics. No student of history however casual will be surprised by what awaited the Irish immigrants. Not only poor, but uneducated, and the fact that they followed a religion that was deeply suspect as far as the native born Protestant Americans were concerned, made them easy targets for all sorts of abuses.
Timothy Wilde is a newly minted beat cop, on the newly minted NYC police department. After being injured and losing everything in the great fire of 1845, his brother a political insider gets him a job as a cop. He isn't excited about this and less than thankful to his brother Valentine. Theirs is a complicated relationship, orphaned at 16 and 10 respectively Vals wildness and choice of profession has angered Tim. Tim has only been on the job a short time but has decided to quit, after attending to a woman who strangled her 6 month old infant, for lack of milk. While walking home after his 16 hour shift (which paid him 10 dollars a week,) Tim runs into a little girl, who is about 10 years old dresses in a night gown and covered in blood. Wondering what to do with the obviously traumatized girl, he is just step from his newly rented rooms above the bakery of Mrs. Boehm. He in his mind is no longer a cop, so he takes her home to decide what he will do with her. "They will rip him apart" she says... Tim goes back to work if only to investigate the girl whom he realizes is a child prostitute, soon he finds 19, 20, 21 dead children most of them prostitutes, who is killing the Irish children and why is no one looking for them? It seems that only Tim and his chief want to know.
I loved this book! The characters and NYC of this period are so interesting. It is told in first person but is done so well. The corruption of the politicians, the bigotry against the Irish Catholics, the fact that the Irish survived and thrived in this country is a wonder. This is a book to read and I am not kidding!
I loved this book and couldnt put it down. It examines the beginning of the NYPD in the mid 19th century in a crime ridden area of the city. As the police dept evolves a former bartender is tasked with solving a crime, one of the first detectives, he has to figure it out as he goes along. The book describes flash language, which was a slang used by criminals some words we still use today, which was fascinating. I passed this on to my mom, daughter, stepdad and they loved it as well!
The Gods of Gotham is a great look into 1845 New York City. Riots, fires and crime abounds, not to mention a real antagonism between the Democratic and Republican (Whig) parties. This is the same time as the great potato blight in Ireland and Irish emigrants are flooding into NY and with them they bring their poverty and (gasp) their religion - Catholicism. Now we see antagonism between Catholics and Protestants as well.
Due to the chaos and crime, etc. a police force is set up -finally- and their badge is a copper star so they are referred to as "the copper stars". This is headed up by George Washington Matsell who is a very dynamic figure. He's big, he's smart and he's a Democrat. Of course, most of the police force comprises men who are in Matsell's camp.
Into this fray, we find two brothers: Valentine and Timothy Wilde. When young boys their parents died in a home fire and they have been on their own for years. Val is 6 yrs older than Tim and has been looking after Tim but Val is a drug using, arbitrary, political animal whereas Tim is much more subdued. Val has been a firefighter and Tim has been a bartender - for years. They have many disagreements between them and Tim is saving his money to buy a fishing boat and some land on Staten Island. Along comes another fire which wipes out a large portion of the city and in this conflagration, Tim loses his hard earned money. Val lets him know that he need not worry because Val has arranged for Tim (as well as Val himself) to be hired on as "copper stars". Since Tim hasn't much choice, he joins up...
Irish child prostitutes are dying apparently at the hand of a madman who wants to make a point against the Irish AND the Catholic faith. Tim takes his job very seriously and actually starts functioning in the role of a detective or an investigator (neither position which exists at the time). Away we go....The plot is intricate, the characters well developed and the history very enlightening.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I hope that there will be more involving these characters. I give this book a solid 4 stars.
I loved this book more than I thought I would. Lyndsay Faye writes a well researched, enjoyable story. It took me a little while to get used to her writing but once I did I thought it fantastic. Sometimes I would have to read a sentence over a couple times to understand what it was she was saying but hey, I prefer that to so much that is out there that seems like Jr. High level. The middle part of the book did drag a bit but overall I can't say enough good things about it. I cared about the relationships developed in the story and the background set in 1845 New York was fascinating. The mystery was solid and when I finished the book I was extremely satisfied. I hope the next book I read comes close to this!
I have mixed feelings about this book. I loved the main character and the storytelling drew me in right away. It is well written and the times and events of the Irish immigrants and the changes occurring in New York as the Police Force is established make interesting subject matter. However, I found some of the subject matter and events to be gritty, graphic, and more disturbing than I could say I enjoyed reading. I am squeamish when it comes to the welfare of children, so I would just say beware of intensity of content.
I read a lot, and I read a lot of historical fiction. My favorite of those are mysteries. I have a new favorite in Gods of Gotham!! I laughed, I got teary, and I was surprised while reading this book. I love the flash language and would like to read more about it. I am not doing this book justice by my review but I am definitely recommending it to all historical mystery lovers. Can't wait for the next one!
Timothy Wilde found himself wearing a copper star and part of the newly established New York police force thanks to his meddling brother, Valentine. Prior to the tragic fire that destroyed his employment as a bartender, Tim worked hard to save money so he could purchase a ferry boat and ask Mercy Underhill, the woman he loved, to marry him. But the fire left him without work, his face burned and disfigured. He is also penniless as he lost his savings when his home burned. He could do worse than work as a "copper" but resents that he must take this job from his politically active brother whose second passion is working to control fires.
The city is filled with anti-Irish and anti-Catholic individuals who avoid hiring anyone with these affiliations which makes Tim's job dangerous since he, too, is Irish but what can he do? Many of his fellow "coppers" are Irish. Tim, 27, feels that he is an unlucky chap on all points but to avoid being tossed into the streets must take this job. His brother assures him that he will do well yet Tim doubts both himself and his brother.
Tim is the narrator for this story about 1845 New York, the first in a series featuring him as the lead character. Due to the potato famine, the Irish are flooding New York and the city will grow from 50,000 in population to 500,000 in just a decade. No wonder the city is filled with crises and chaos. Several characters in this novel are fascinating including Valentine, Tim's brother, who drinks too much, indulges in too much sex and recklessly rushes to the latest fires, leading his crew to fight the flames and save as much as they can. Mercy, Tim's sweetheart, is a complex young woman with an agenda of her own key of which is the goal of getting away from her religious father. The character I loved most was Little Bird Daly, only ten years old, who has escaped from a brothel which includes children among its offerings to those so inclined. A precocious liar, her tales change from time to time as she assesses what her listeners will believe. The author weaves a great yarn with complexity, action and moving realistic characters. I look forward to reading more by this author. Gods is so well done.
I was expecting to be fully engrossed in the history of the developement of the First New York City Poice Department and the crime in that era. I really struggled thru this book and will probably be the minority in my dislike of it, way to wordy just kept going on and on blah, blah, blah. The use of the Flash language seem to not be the proper fit for the character at times. Such a disappointment I guess my hopes and expectation where too high.