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31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
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31 Bond Street

by Ellen Horan

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2843459,958 (3.65)17

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1857 and dentist Dr Burdell is found murdered. His live in house mistress Emma Cunningham is accused of his murder.

This story is a fictional account of a true murder. The author found her inspiration from an old newspaper cutting.

I normally love any period read especially if based on a true story. This book however for me didn't quite hit the mark. Firstly the book I felt at times was quite enjoyable and I especially liked the flashbacks to Emmas life leading up to the murder. I also enjoyed the court scenes. What I didn't enjoy was that the book went of on a tangent and delved into the slave trade.

For me the book would have been more enjoyable if there was more of the court proceedings in a Jodi Picoult kind of way. As the book seemed to lose its way, then so did I. I felt I was getting bored very easily with it and I have to admit towards the end I was flicking and missing pages.

Overall for me the book could have been better although at times my interest was held. ( )
  tina1969 | Mar 24, 2015 |
There is a great deal to like about this book, and just a bit to dislike.

I loved the story, I loved the fact that it is partially based on a true murder in the 1850's in New York City, I loved the glimpse into the politics and law of that time period. I loved the characters, especially the lawyer (who is one of the "real" people).

What I didn't love was the bouncing around from the time period of the crime and trial, back to before the two involved in the crime met, back to the crime and trial, back to when they first met, back to -- well, you get the idea. I don't dislike flashbacks that have some duration to them but in this book some of them were only a page or so long and it got very disorientating. In fact, I had to keep going back to the first chapter to read the date to "place" myself for one of the other time periods.

Dr. Harvey Burdell is killed in his own home, inside a house that is locked and a room that is normally locked. A young boy, John, who works as an errand boy for the household finds the Dr. and thus begins the story, who killed Dr. Burdell? Was it the woman living in the home (Emma Cunningham), who has a marriage license for Harvey and herself, that no one knows about? What about Emma's two daughters? The household help? Or was it someone who managed to get into the house and leave unseen?

Dr. Burdell seems to have spent his life making enemies both in his professional life and in his personal life. Not too long into the book you know that just about anyone could have killed him, he was involved in shady business dealings with powerful people in New York City, he was lying to Emma, well, he was actually lying to everyone he came into contact with, with tragic results.

I was surprised at the killer, didn't see that one coming at all, but most of the other bad characters get their just desserts in the end.

There is a short summary at the end of the book that details what is true and what happened to the real characters in the book. It made a satisfying ending to the book. All but the murder and three of the characters are fictional but using those real people made the story much more real than some historical fiction.

If you can get past the time bouncing this is a great read. ( )
  bookswoman | Mar 31, 2013 |
How a woman got on trial for murder , and politics in New York at that time. Some real & rest made up . Corruption and racial conflict , a tail of greed. ( )
  donagiles | Sep 10, 2012 |
As with most of the books that I've purchased from the library, I started reading this one then got distracted by another.
  brian_irons | Nov 11, 2011 |
Historically, a woman on her own has always been a woman at risk. In some cultures around the world, a woman is still not permitted to own property, to have her own money, to walk along a city street in daylight without fear of reprisals. In 1857, a widowed woman had limited options available to her, but Emma Cunningham was determined to make the most of them. She enters into an arrangement with a handsome bachelor, Dr. Harvey Burdell, that may work to her advantage…but almost immediately you begin to wonder: who is taking advantage of whom?

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan is an interesting bit of historical fiction, based on the celebrated murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell. Horan takes a fair amount of liberty with this story, which is detailed in the Author’s Notes. (I think that’s an excellent move — I don’t mind taking a bit of history and giving it a twist to make it a great story, as long as they acknowledge the twists.) She fleshes out a number of characters, adds some interesting side plots, making for a very engaging read.

Read my full review here. ( )
  LisaLynne | Apr 24, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
It's not easy to breathe life into real-life characters, especially when quoting their words extensively from reported sources, but Cunningham and Clinton live on the page as freshly as if they had stepped, new-minted, from Horan's vivid imagination.
 
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Epigraph
Beware of large adventures in railroads, niggers, wild lands, new banks, old banks, manufacturing enterprises, steamships, regular and fancy stocks, which promise no redeeming dividends this side of 1860. When the wind blows, and the rains fall, and the floods descend, all these things may be swept away as within the brief space of a single night. - The New York Herald, FEBRUARY 4, 1857
Dedication
For my father, Hubert J. Horan III, an innate storyteller; for him, stories were a search for meaning, and history was his compass.
First words
For a boy who watched boats, his room was the perfect perch.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?

Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.

Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061773964, Hardcover)

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?

Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.

Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Committed to justice and the law, New York City defense attorney Henry Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow Emma Cunningham in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows as they both seek to discover who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell.

» see all 3 descriptions

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