To be Published in September; quotes from ARC
By Lyndsay Faye
I am constantly amazed but, more, chagrined when I read the atrocities of whites onto blacks...especially when well documented, yet unknown, by the majority of Americans! Sure, this novel takes place exactly 100 years before the year I was born, but somehow the reality of the depths of cruelty never filters into "common knowledge..."
Like it is today...in news form everywhere! While I must agree with Solomon Northup, in his quote above, I do think that fiction writers today are more accurately portraying what happened historically. Kudos to the author for her series on "heroes..." which features one of the first "copper star" detectives under the newly appointed Chief of Police George Washington Matsell in New York City...
I need to mention also the beautiful literary writing of the author, which includes quotes such as above, at the beginning of each chapter. Additionally, insofar as possible, she has used actual names which certainly helps to allow the novel to be placed, in my opinion, in the Black History libraries across America, even while it stands as an outstanding, extraordinary mystery novel which will captivate you from the beginning to the "Historical Afterword" included at the end. There also is a small glossary at the beginning of "Flash Terminology" from The Secret Language of Crime by G. W. Matsell, 1859, which is used throughout the book, showing the slang used at that time.
Like it was with Lucy Adams...
He had told her, "Just tell it to me like a story, and I'll fix this..."
She had come to report a theft...of her family... Specifically, her sister and son had been taken. She knew who had taken them, of course, since she had also been taken in her past!
Timothy is also "that rarest of deviants" in the City "who feels about politics the way most men feel about scraping pig dung off their boots. I'm going to allow readers the pleasure (or pain) of discovering how politics plays in this story...Let me just say that it was not any different than it is now, I am sure...
Timothy had not even realized that Lucy was black--what he did know was that she was beautiful. But her race would not have mattered anyway--like I said he's a good cop. And he's also a good man... That's important because when you meet his brother, who is a captain in the police, you'll immediately worry whether Timothy is going to be able to be effective with Valentine as his brother! I loved the interplay between the two, especially regarding politics since Val was completely involved with his party and placed its needs in decisions he made related to his job. Of course, especially at that time, they had to, since the formal police structure had just been formed and could just as easily be eliminated--by politicians...
I found that a NY Madam made an interesting character, especially since she was involved politically as both a contributor and a power player. Needless to say, I hated her as a woman...LOL
|"No grand inquest has for years|
had the courage or virtue to find
a bill of indictment against a
kidnapper, however plain and
undeniable the proof of his guilt.
--James G. Birney, 1842http://www.primaryresearch.org/
Timothy and Val had found the sister and son who had been taken by slave agents and given them refuge only to find Lucy dead in Val's bed and her sister and son gone again. The complexity of this whodunit is marvelously explored as Timothy takes each event and molds it into possible scenarios. He becomes involved with the Committee for Vigilance, which included a long-time friend with whom Timothy worked for many years. They were most involved in the prevention of Free Black citizens from being kidnapped and accused of being runaway slaves! But some were also involved with activities of the Underground Railroad.
The complexity of this novel is what keeps readers' attention! Just when we mystery lovers are on the scent, we are confronted with an entirely new political or criminal issue with the normal police actions taking place. Timothy is so engrossed in fulfilling his promise that he disrupts court proceedings, is involved with the murder of another Copper Star, as well as being forced to attend a political function, dressed up in clothes bought for the occasion by his brother...and then being kidnapped himself and taken, beaten, and sentenced to death by a small group of politicos!
Only a female author, it seems to me, would take the time to include romantic (not sexual issues which are there!) involvement by Timothy and to close out the novel bringing us lightly back into a happier frame of mind from the depths of anguish this novel generates! Thank you, Lyndsay Faye, for allowing us to become so intimately involved with Timothy...he was, indeed, a good man...
History lovers - A must read for you! Mystery lovers--the same! People who care--you got it, the Same!
is the author of critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow and The Gods of Gotham, which was nominated by the Edgars for Best Novel—if you were to ask her, she would say she writes hero stories. Faye, a true New Yorker in the sense she was born elsewhere, lives in Manhattan with her husband, Gabriel.