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The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
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The Gods of Gotham (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lyndsay Faye

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Member:Beamis12
Title:The Gods of Gotham
Authors:Lyndsay Faye
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Author) (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
I listened to an excellent audio version narrated by Steven Boyer.

New York City in the mid 1800s was a patchwork of competing and warring tribes. The newest immigrants getting the worst of it (the Irish) at that moment. But political bosses and religions were just as divisive. It was in the midst of that wild madness that the first police force was formed, most of the members of that force selected by the Democratic party bosses, rather than by any person looking for any real credentials. But then, policing was mostly knocking heads together, rather than solving crimes.

Into that mix comes Timothy Wilde, whose brother is a political boss and whose former job ended in a huge fire that swept through the city.

Timothy, much to his own surprise, finds he takes to the task, and when he discovers a dead kinchin, he’s swept up by his emotions and desires to solve the death of this little unwanted child. When yet more bodies turn up, he’s driven to create his own methods to find out just who is responsible and make them pay.

Beautifully written, period details are well drawn, and the tale is atmospheric and moving. You can almost imagine the misery that so many people experienced then.

The mystery itself is complex enough to draw you in and compel you forward to want to find out the whole story. ( )
  majkia | Apr 4, 2014 |
Atmospheric historical mystery set in New York in the 1840s as the city forms its first police force and the Irish immigrants flood the city. Our guide to all this is Timothy Wilde, a new "copper star" on the new police force. Wilde owes his position to the influence of his older brother Valentine, a Democratic pol and fixer.

First time author Lindsay Faye plays fair with the mystery while regaling the reader with New York lore. I look forward to reading her next book. ( )
  barlow304 | Mar 15, 2014 |
What a phenomenal book!!! The audio version was amazing and Steven Boyer did a superb job of depicting each of the characters. I do believe our book club really has found our first fictional good guy. Loved the mystery that ran throughout. The characters were so well written. I will be thinking about this book for a long time to come. ( )
  dms02 | Feb 27, 2014 |
I can count the number of books I couldn’t bear to finish on one hand, and this was one of them (and that was a crushing disappointment).

I simply can’t fathom what the people who love this book are raving about.

Yes, Faye can turn a phrase, and there are moments of stunning writing (for example, when the protagonist is describing his brother, who is high on morphine, Faye writes, “the minutes dripped from his eyes like blood from a corpse”).

And clearly, she has done an immense amount of research into both the social and political atmosphere of the time.

Unfortunately, neither of these two things in and of themselves make for good storytelling.

The first main issue I had with this book was Faye’s clunky, ham-fisted way of enfolding the research she did into the story. Instead of using information to weave a picture made of many threads of historical fact, she takes a mediocre event or plot point at best and shoves facts all over it, the same way wedding dress designers put random, stupid bows on gowns.

This problem presents itself in two main ways.

The first is Faye’s horrible use of flash, the slang of the poor in New York at the time. She would have been well advised to look to Bruce Alexander’s Murder in Grub Street for a much-needed lesson on how to fold flash into a story to create atmosphere. Instead, she bludgeons the reader over the head with terms that, given the rest of the protagonist’s tone, come across as jarring and don’t seem to fit. Granted, flash isn’t the main character’s main way of speaking (so why does he use the terms in soliloquy, then?), but even so it’s distracting.

And the characters that should use flash don’t.

The second example of this is the tedious way Faye describes New York. It’s obvious that she lives in contemporary New York and even more obvious that she loves it. Which for her, at least, is a problem because it makes reading the book a little like having to sit through watching someone else play a video game.

Travel is told through directions (I went north on this street and south at this street), which in my opinion is a pretty boring way to write character travel to begin with. But unless you’re familiar with the streets and how they look now, how they looked during the 1800s simply falls flat. Even worse, the map printed on the inside of the front and back covers of the book doesn’t show half the streets Faye refers to, so you can’t even try to follow routes that way!

There are some interesting characters, like Matsell, but they are poorly developed. And even the main character, Tim, is wearying. He’s a barkeep who notices everything, but is too naïve to notice the girl who run into him is a “kinchen mab”? And the murders of children shock him? Really? But he worked in an oyster house? Please.

And his alleged love-hate with his brother is poorly developed and terrible. His resentment is badly—very, very badly—mixed with awe and admiration. Val, the brother, should be a complex character but really isn’t. And the object of Tim’s affection, Mercy, is equally half-sketched cumbersome (we get it; she speaks in riddles an helps the poor; move on already!).

And on top of all that, the writing is choppy, lacks flow or pacing and the story isn’t interesting enough to look past it.

No, dear friends, this is a novel publishers were likely hoping would ride on the coattails of the current Sherlock resurgence (don’t even get me started on that…) and the increased interest in the Victorian era that resulted. I can’t wait until the Victorian isn’t trendy anymore so only the cream rises to the top again. ( )
  Shutzie27 | Feb 11, 2014 |
The mystery in this story took plenty of twists and turns, some of them believable and some of them not. Overall, I didn’t find it suspenseful enough to hold my interest intently. I wanted to know how it ended, but at the same time, I was able to put it down while I read other books and then picked it back up again.

I was impressed with the dialogue the author used for the characters. They speak using slang called flash and it seemed quite complicated to me. There was a flash dictionary in the front of the book and if a word wasn’t in the dictionary, the author made sure it was explained in the narrative of the story.

The book is the first in a series of Timothy Wilde mysteries. I have the second one, Seven for a Secret and I’m hoping that Timothy’s brother, Valentine, has a bigger role in that book as he was one of my favorite characters in this one. ( )
  mcelhra | Jan 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
New York City of 1845 is a cacophany of competing lexicons. In The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye, the city’s political bosses, religious leaders, starving Irish immigrants, impoverished nativists, civil leaders, race-baiters, headline writers, popular novelists, street hawkers, sinners, lovers, and criminals each employ language as distinctive as a police report’s. But also whispering among the leaning hovels of babble in Five Points are secret loyalties, monstrous acts, and madness.
...
Amid many intersecting factions, venues, and intents, the novel retains a glorious and tragic coherence. Without being epigraphic, The Gods of Gotham is a feast of language, 1845’s New York City as a magnificent assembly of newspaper articles, poems, sensational novels, crime reports, advertisements, amateur theatrics, hawkers’ calls, political promises, and flash conversations, making those tender and awful things that can’t be said even more keenly felt.
 
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For my family, who taught me that when you are knocked considerably sideways, you get up and keep going, or you get up and go in a slightly different direction.
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When I set down the initial report, sitting at my desk at the Tombs, I wrote: On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped.
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Book description
In 1845 New York City Timothy Wilde, a twenty-seven-year-old Irish immigrant, joins the newly formed NYPD and investigates an infanticide and the body of a twelve-year-old Irish boy whose spleen has been removed.
Haiku summary
Timothy Wilde is
One of New York's first police
Investigators.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399158375, Hardcover)

1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this untested "police force." And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward-at the border of Five Points, the world's most notorious slum.

One night while returning from his rounds, heartsick and defeated, Timothy runs into a little slip of a girl—a girl not more than ten years old—dashing through the dark in her nightshift . . . covered head to toe in blood.

Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can't bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn't sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:33 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

New York City, 1845. Timothy Wilde, a 27-year-old Irish immigrant, joins the newly formed NYPD and investigates an infanticide and the body of a 12-year-old Irish boy whose spleen has been removed.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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