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, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win 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 new "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 making his rounds, Wilde literally 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.
I just want to start out my review by stating this: Lyndsay Faye has a knack for weaving history and fiction together. I started this story out with a rather clean slate. I knew it was a mystery of sorts, and was also from the historical fiction genre. I knew there was something about the first police officers of New York, and that was it. So I had no preconceived notions and knew only that it sounded interesting.
I really got pulled into the story of Timothy Wilde, and really liked getting ot know him as he found himself enlisted in the first troop of police officers of New York. He kind of stumbled into it and from the start didn't really want to do it. All it took was running into a little girl covered in blood to change his mind and his life for good.
So many well-crafted characters make this book something of a masterpiece. You love and hate them all at once. You pity the street urchins that have to do whatever it takes to survive, and you despise the criminals that take advantage of them. No one is completely innocent in this story. Just this fact alone makes this book amazingly written.
The Gods of Gotham is certainly one of my new favorites. I felt the mystery was pretty well created and that Lyndsay Faye kept the tense atmosphere perfectly simmering until the very end. I was not disappointed by the ending. It was not at all what I expected and that is a GOOD thing!
- Reading level: Ages 18 and up
- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam; First Edition edition (March 15, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399158375