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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lyndsay Faye: Seven for a Secret.
In the follow-up novel to "Gods of Gotham" Faye has taken a much under-appreciated aspect of the issue of slavery in 1840`s America - the iniquitous activities of slave-catchers.

The story continues the career of Timothy Wilde of the recently formed New York City police force, and is narrated in the first-person as a case-file by Wilde himself; an investigation...
Published 9 months ago by J. Mcdonald

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3.0 out of 5 stars 2nd Wilde brothers mystery
1840s New York once again sees police man Timothy Wilde fighting hard against a society that is very unequal and merciless to those at the bottom. This case has him investigating the kidnap of freed slaves to be resold as slaves and he must not only fight the traders but possibly also high ranking politicians and coppers.
Well written mystery that took a while to get...
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer


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3.0 out of 5 stars 2nd Wilde brothers mystery, 21 April 2014
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Amazon Customer "maria2222" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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1840s New York once again sees police man Timothy Wilde fighting hard against a society that is very unequal and merciless to those at the bottom. This case has him investigating the kidnap of freed slaves to be resold as slaves and he must not only fight the traders but possibly also high ranking politicians and coppers.
Well written mystery that took a while to get into, but which was worth a lazy holiday.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening Expediency, 22 Feb 2014
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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I read ‘Seven For A Secret’ a few days after watching the film ‘12 Years A Slave’ which covers the same subject of slave-catching in mid 1840s in America. Though the film centred on the horrific detail of slave life and was based on the real experience of Solomon Northup, this book is much more perceptive and incisive in spite of it being historical fiction. Main protagonist and story teller is Timothy Wilde, a liberal minded slavery abolitionist and an early ‘copper star’ detective in the embryonic New York police force. He finds the police are virtual political supporters of the Democratic Party which defends law and order in an expedient manner to appease the South, with blind eyes turned to slave-catching. I was intrigued by the short closing comments of the film as Solomon Northup attempted to gain justice after being freed, but ‘Seven For A Secret’ delves much deeper and it provides detailed and enlightening insights to pre-Civil War politics.

There seems little doubt the practice of kidnapping free blacks to sell them into slavery was rife and pretty much overlooked by the police and courts. Author Lyndsay Faye includes extracts from factual records to introduce chapters, and a number of these quote directly from Solomon Northup’s 1853 publication ‘12 Years A Slave’. Faye unerringly captures the violent and decedent nature of early New York where there were huge differences between the up and coming rich entrepreneurial classes and the poverty of the masses. Scenarios embrace problems with Irish immigrants as well as the black population and these are given substance via Timothy Wilde’s thoughts together with personal asides, reports and letters using sarcasm, cynicism, wit and humility. He can also be stupid, belligerent and angry, and I found it easy to empathize with his flawed but compassionate character.

Even though ‘Seven For A Secret’ is American literature it has a feel of Victorian melodrama, and there are evocative descriptions of bars, brothels etc. together with prostitution, abuse, murder etc. In addition to enlightening expediency of subject it is exciting and entertaining writing with heavy reliance on a form of slang ‘flash’ language evolving from those flocking to New York. All such features underpin the plots and sub-plots of ‘Seven For A Secret’ as Timothy Wilde sets out to right wrongs. If readers were impressed by the film ‘12 Years A Slave’ they will move up a gear and they will absolutely love this book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great historical mystery from Lyndsay Faye, 4 Aug 2013
By 
Helen S - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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One of the most surprising books I read last year was The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye. Surprising because it didn't really sound like my type of book, yet once I started reading I loved it from the first page. Seven for a Secret is the second in the series and just as good as the first. While I like discovering new authors and meeting new characters, there is something comforting about reading a book that is the second or subsequent in a series and returning to a world you're familiar with and characters you already know.

This series is set in 19th century New York and follows the adventures of Timothy Wilde, a 'copper star' with the newly formed New York Police Department (the name comes from the copper stars the officers are required to wear for identification). After Timothy's crime-solving skills in The Gods of Gotham brought him to the attention of Chief George Washington Matsell, he has now been given a special position as one of the department's first detectives. In Seven for a Secret, Timothy is on the trail of a gang of 'blackbirders' (people employed to catch runaway slaves and return them to slavery in the South). The gang have captured the family of Lucy Adams, who insists that they are free New Yorkers and not slaves. Timothy promises to help and with the assistance of his brother Valentine sets out to investigate the crime.

Some of the characters we met in the previous novel are back again in this one including Julius Carpenter, Gentle Jim, Bird Daly and Silkie Marsh, but there are plenty of new characters too, from six-year-old chimney sweeps to corrupt Democratic Party members. But one of my favourite things about this series is the relationship between the two Wilde brothers, Timothy and Valentine. Tim continues to be torn between admiration for Val and disgust with his less savoury habits; Val continues to be the exasperated but protective older brother. I love them both, but I have to say I think Val is a wonderful creation and the more interesting character of the two.

The thing that really sets this series apart from other historical mystery novels I've read is the setting and the plots that arise from that setting. Before discovering these books I had virtually no knowledge at all of the early days of policing in New York or the work of the 'copper stars'. And although I have read quite a lot of novels that deal with the subject of slavery, I hadn't read anything that looked at this particular aspect of slavery. But much as I love Timothy Wilde and think he's a great narrator, I did sometimes feel that his attitudes towards slavery and other issues raised in this book seemed more like the reactions of someone living in 2013 rather than the 1840s. Other than that, the atmosphere of 19th century New York is completely believable; as in the first novel, the feeling of authenticity is enhanced by the inclusion of 'flash', a sort of slang used mainly by criminals but also spoken by both Wildes. There's a useful flash dictionary at the front of the book to help translate any unfamiliar words, but in most cases it's easy enough to work out what is being said.

If you're new to this series you could certainly enjoy Seven for a Secret without having read The Gods of Gotham first, but I would still recommend reading them in the correct order if you can. And really, they are both so good I'm sure whichever one you read first you will want to read the other anyway. I really hope there are going to be more books in this series as I can't wait to see what the future has in store for Tim and Val!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potential to be much better than it was, 21 Oct 2013
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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On the positive the characters are strong and well drawn. The setting also is evoked cleverly and there was little doubt in my mind of the images of the grimy New York streets.
The plot is interesting being focused on the time when people were hired to catch slaves that had escaped from the south of America and run. The problem with the plot is the time that it takes to get going, you are a good third of the way onto the book before the main story is revealed - this is annoying but does have the advantage of well establishing the characters.
My main irritation is the over blown style that is used. The first person narrative forces the whole book to be written as if in the form of the police statement which does become wearing. This also means that the language has to try to be original which is jarring in the modern world.
I would recommend if you love a nineteenth mystery tale but otherwise give this a miss.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven for a Secret, 13 Oct 2013
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Champollion (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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"Seven for a Secret" is the second book in Lindsay Faye's crime series in nineteenth century New York. Her first, "The Gods of Gotham" introduced Timothy Wilde a former bartender and now a member of the city's fledgling NYPD. This time the "Edgar" nominated author advances the tale six months on into 1846.

Narrated in the first person, the plot drives along and involves the abduction of the family of Lucy Adams by the 'blackbirders' (slave catchers of black people,) who take them from the northern states of America and transport them to the south into slavery. It enrages Wilde's high sense of morality, ethics and fairness and he embarks on a quest to investigate and find the missing family.

However the "Copper Star" Wilde, who has been relieved of his obligation to walk the beat and can now investigate crime, gets himself into danger as the tentacles of this obscene trade spread far and wide posing many risks.

Lindsay Faye has created another enthralling, fascinating and page turning historical thriller which will hook you in from the first page. Although this is the second in the series it is a stand alone book and well worth a read. The book provides a refreshingly different and atmospheric setting in this genre. Recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner, 3 Oct 2013
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Another great effort from Faye, with the characters and their relationships becoming even more developed from the last novel. Great stuff!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Triumphant Return of Timothy Wilde, 17 Sep 2013
This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
The first book in Lyndsay Faye's tales of the Wilde brothers, The Gods of Gotham, ended up as number five on my best of 2012 books. I absolutely adored the book, for its plot, its atmosphere, and its characters. Faye blew me away with her meticulous research and her use of period-appropriate slang. Afterwards I asked for her other book Dust and Shadows for my birthday (and got it), but unfortunately, as with many of my non-review copy books these days, it's still in residence on Mount-To-Be-Read. So when the ARC for the next Wilde book, Seven for a Secret arrived at Casa Librarian, you can imagine there was a little dance of joy. Faye takes us back to Tim and Valentine in another fascinating mystery and has Tim grapple with some very tough issues.
Central to the book's plot are slavery and abolition. Tim not only has his eyes opened as regards the lot of African Americans, whether escaped slaves or free-born, in late 1840's New York. I love how Faye approached the thorny issues of slavery, racism and the fact that often even people who don't consider themselves racist can exhibit unconscious racism. It made Seven for a Secret feel highly relevant to today's world, though the fact that in over 150 years we still haven't managed to put all of these issues behind us is quite dispiriting--you'd think we'd be further along by now. Tim's hopeless naiveté when it comes to the realities of life for the African Americans in his society and his continually forgetting the limitations placed on them, are both a sign of his humanitarian nature and an eye-opener on how people's inattention and complacency can create a continuing state of unconscious and even institutional racism. Tim gets called out on his dense thoughtlessness and during the novel turns into a fierce abolitionist.

In addition to the focus on slavery and abolition, Faye deepens her world and her characters. We learn more about New York and its inhabitants and in addition to learning more about Tim and Valentine's history and character, we also learn more about other, secondary characters, such as Tim's landlady Mrs Boehm, little Bird Daly, Tim's fellow copper star Jakob Piest, and his former co-worker, Julius Carpenter. I love that they all gain depth and their lines grow more distinct and recognisable. I loved the glimpses of Val's unexpectedly kind nature, Bird's keen-eyed insights, and Piest's solid loyalty Faye grants us; she makes the reader care not just for Tim, but for all of them. But Tim is the heart of the novel. This is his story to tell and we follow his path through the dangerous events of the narrative. It's his growth we witness up close, not just in his discovery of his abolitionist beliefs, but perhaps more importantly in his struggle to come to terms with the events of the last book and with letting go of the dream of Mercy Underhill, his childhood love.

Seven for a Secret contains a complex and intricate mystery that is tangled together tightly and has Tim, Val and Piest working hard to solve it. The twist was amazing; it took me not quite by surprise, but I only saw it coming at the last moment. There is only one thing that bugged me. Quite early on Tim starts hinting that his life is going to fall apart at some point in the book and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. And every time something happened that I thought was the shoe, he'd hint at something more. It created both a good and a bad tension; good in the sense that I was reading with bated breath wanting to find out what would happen next, but bad because I became impatient with the narrative, wanting it to get there already. However, about two-thirds through I was so drawn into the novel, I didn't even notice reading any more, and I was just following the story.

With Seven for a Secret Lyndsay Faye gives Timothy Wilde a triumphant return to the streets of New York, and I adored every minute of it. The same caveat that was true for The Gods of Gotham, holds true here though: if you don't like slang and period language, then Faye's flash-filled dialogues won't be to your taste. For me it was the confirmation that Faye is a wonderfully talented writer, who can create a detailed, atmospheric historical world without info-dumping all her research. I'm already looking forward to more Wilde novels, as the author's confirmed there will be at least a third one and in the meantime, I guess I'll really have to read Dust and Shadows soon, just to tide me over. Seven for a Secret is a happy marriage of historical and crime fiction and if either of those genres speak to you, Seven for a Secret is a must-read that stands well on its own, but will be a richer experience if you've read the first in the series.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed - Sometimes Annoying, Sometimes Excellent - Historical Detective Yarn, 6 Aug 2013
By 
wolf (East Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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'Seven For A Secret' is good enough to disappoint.

It is clear that the author, Lyndsay Faye, has real talent. The writing is sometimes excellent. Too often, however, it veers into being irritating, overly worked or overly arch.

The idea behind the novel, the way the law was used in the mid-nineteenth century US to return runaway black slaves to the American south and how certain slave catchers were none to fussy about whether they collected freemen or runaways, is an excellent one. Her central policeman character, with strong abolitionist tendencies but trapped in a world where the kidnap of black men and women is legally sanctioned, a good one to explore the moral issues that this raises. But sadly, due to a number of issues, the book too often misses its mark.

Part of the problem is that we are about 150 pages in to the novel before the main plot really begins to motor, with an unexpected dead body turning up, apparently incriminating our main characters. It is often a sign that an author realises that the start of a book is weak when there is a prologue. Here we get one that hints at the beginning of the main story before we go back to deal with a sub-plot about the theft of a painting which is largely divorced from the rest of the book and could have been usefully cut.

The lack of plot line to push us forward gives the reader time to puzzle over other aspects of the story and its telling which might be best left not thought about. Early on, for example, the policeman central character, and narrator of the story, meets an Englishman acting as a butler in a New York household. He is 'doing his level best London accent' but the narrator immediately identifies him as coming from Bristol. That might work as an incidental detail for an American audience, but it seems hard for anyone familiar with the West Country inflected Bristol accent (with its habit of sticking an 'L' on the end of vowels) to see that mistake being made or, if the family hiring the man are genuinely so tone deaf to accents, why the butler felt the need to disguise the accent in the first place. Given that the idea of a received pronunciation 'posh' accent was largely a nineteenth century invention, would anyone even have cared?

Another irritation, for me at least, was too often the style of writing. Whilst sometimes very well told, it too often becomes affected. Lyndsay Faye is clearly influenced by the dry laconic hardboiled style of detective fiction created by masters such as Raymond Chandler and much aped since then. The narrator's descriptions are peppered with witty comments in this style. Very often, I wished he (and Faye) would give them a rest.

Too often the writing and its grasp on character resembles something that we might encounter in creative writing workshops or American indie films but not real life, as I've encountered it. At one stage, the narrator policeman tells a character, from whom he is taking a statement,
"'I detest writing police reports,' I admitted... 'Particularly when I'm recording conscienceless things. It's as if - I can't explain it. As if when I officially document them, they have to stay with me. Or I give them permanence, or ... I know it doesn't make sense.' ...
"'As if you're deliberately memorializing something that oughtn't to be remembered at all,' Delia said softly."
It strains for the poetic and the significant but, for me at least, misses the plausible. I've met police officers and I've met victims of crime and none of them have ever suggested they've felt like that. It makes even less sense the more one thinks about it: this is the same man who, we are expected to believe, does write these events down and in staggering detail, as the very text we are currently reading (he makes reference to the pages of the manuscript of the previous story).

It does have to be admitted that, once the main story gets going, the book improves greatly. The various elements of mid-nineteenth century New York, from machine politics to Irish refugees to corrupt policemen are artfully handled, neatly sketched, none outstaying their welcome and all serving a thoroughly entertaining story. By that stage I had been close to giving up, however.

The mystery itself and its resolution are a bit disappointing. An acute reader is likely to have guessed one more significant revelations before the central character. The explanation for the mysterious death, that powers the plot of the later two-thirds of the book, is best not considered too closely: alternative courses of action to the one chosen are too obvious. That said, it would be wrong not to acknowledge that the later part of the book is entertaining.

All in all, a generous three stars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good historical police book...., 28 Nov 2013
By 
mandynolan "mandynolan" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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I really enjoyed this book....It tells the story of "coppers" in New York....setting up a new Police service...fighting and investigating crime....the story is a good one...not as good as the first book...but I enjoyed the themes within in nonetheless......It is good to read a crime novel that has a good story and protagonist....I also enjoyed The Gods of Gotham
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a shocking revelation, 24 Sep 2013
By 
David Spanswick (Brighton United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) (Hardcover)
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Just occasionally a book comes my way to review that totally blasts all my previous convictions about just about everything, in this new episode in the life of Timothy Wilde, copper star of the newly formed New York police department the crime of "blackbirding" is the focal crime and one I had never read about before.

This leagalised racism is indeed an appalling crime all the more so since that newly formed force, steeped in corruption all the while, has sanctioned it.

Lyndsay Faye ,channeling Arthur Conan Doyle in many ways, builds on her reputation from the publication of "The Gods of Gotham" and splendidly evokes Victorian New York in the footsteps of Caleb Carr, Victoria Thomson and Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy mysteries though this is a far darker and bigoted city than written by any of these authors.

Faye writes at white hot speed and with a passion shot through with her own shame, anger and guilt at the treatment of the "coloured" population of the time. There is no undoing of this appalling episode in American history any more than that of the Nazi regime in German history ~ these elements of prejudice so deep in the DNA of culture are impossible to eradicate.

This is a rollicking adventure that swerves in and out of its own narrative to construct a very readable, if disturbing, novel, its only fault is that occasionally the research involved shows up rather like a literary "sleeping policeman" (pun intended) or like a double knot in an arcane quilt. Nevertheless I recommend this as an enlightened and brilliant read
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Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2)
Seven for a Secret (Gods of Gotham 2) by Lyndsay Faye (Hardcover - 17 Sep 2013)
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