Seven for a Secret Paperback – 17 Sep 2013
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Praise for THE GODS OF GOTHAM: 'A wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable and her knowledge of human character even more so. I bought into this world and never once had the desire to leave' (Michael Connelly)
'Executed with brio and packed with pungent historical detail...this is a cracking yarn' (Daily Mail)
'The Gods of Gotham succeeds on many levels: as a colourful, crackling evocation of an underworld packed with desperados; as an unflinching glance into the history of some of New York's shadiest and most shameful corners; and as a cleverly crafted crime story with a central character who deserves a new case, and another book' (Metro)
'The dangerous underworld of New York in the mid-nineteenth century... wonderfully vivid and vigorous' (The Sunday Times)
'This is special...The historical detail is impressive in a character-driven tale spotted with an underground language called Flash, which is fascinating. Stunning... highly recommended' (Sarah Broadhurst, 'Ones to Watch' Paperback Preview, Bookseller)
'The slums of 19th-century New York... [a] rollicking historical novel...with vibrant characters' (New York Times)
'This is a series for the ages, it's so spectacular. Really, really just amazing' Gillian Flynn: From the author of the highly acclaimed GODS OF GOTHAM comes another vivid, gritty, historical novel set around mid-nineteenth century New York's notorious Five PointsSee all Product description
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But tracking down Lucy’s relatives plunges Wilde and his flamboyant brother Valentine into the murky world of local politics and racial inequality where murder is simply as an easy way to achieve your ends and Silkie Marsh is at the heart of an evil web, pulling her malevolent strings to hurt both brothers and those they care about …
The second in Lyndsay Faye’s GODS OF GOTHAM TRILOGY is an atmospheric historical crime story that makes the most of the location, the period and the horrors of slavery and has a wonderful antagonist in the form of the sociopath Silkie Marsh but I don’t buy Timothy Wilde or his brother Valentine as their attitudes and behaviour are too 21st century for me, although I enjoyed their relationship and would read the other two books. Faye is great at recreating life in 1840s New York (e.g. the local cant and the sordid politics of the Democratic Party). Her portrayal of the plight of even freed slaves is genuinely chilling and she makes good use of source material by including quotes from works of the time at the head of each chapter and wrapping those issues into the central mystery. I also thought Silkie Marsh was a genuinely chilling antagonist, sociopathic and conniving I believed in her vendetta against Timothy and Valentine and her willingness to play different people against each other. However I didn’t buy Timothy’s reactions to the world he lives in (e.g. his failure to understand that black people were unable to give testimony in court) and his attitude towards things like homosexuality or Valentine’s bisexuality seemed a bit too 21st century to me (although I liked how he applied his own experience to solving mysteries). That aside, the story and characters kept me turning the pages and I really want to read the other books in the trilogy.
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 into the abduction of a black woman and child leads him into the murky and immoral world of "blackbirders" who, under the legally sanctioned business of re-capturing escaped slaves, will snatch any black person in the knowledge that the law will do little to prevent them. This premise makes for a long and convoluted plot, evocative of the period due to the level of historical detail and use of language the author has employed. As in her previous novel, this presents the reader with an immersive recreation of the New York underworld of the era; where it falters a little is in the levels of verbosity her character indulges in, which can require a degree of patience. I can quite understand that some readers may find this off-putting, although I myself enjoy the author`s use of language; there is less "flash" vernacular in evidence this time around, but it is present - it isn't difficult to follow, taken in context.
On the whole, this succeeds well as an historical detective novel with the advantage of relatively unusual subject matter; good as a stand-alone read, better if you've read the first in what I now assume will be a series.
I enjoyed it and am happy to recommend it.
Like that book, Seven for a Secret is packed with fascinating historical details and the language of a bygone era.
Timothy's older brother Val who pulled a reluctant Timothy into the newly minted force and persuaded him to become a copper star, returns in this book, dissolute, base and brave, plumbing further depths as a deeply flawed but somehow loveable hero.
The action of Seven for a Secret takes place six months after The Gods of Gotham, and the fiery summer heat of the first book is exchanged for the mud and slush of a New York winter. Timothy is off the streets and has become a proto-detective, one of the world's first, given the toughest cases to solve.
Once more the plot is an absolute cracker. With slave shortages in the South, free Northerners of colour are being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the southern states. Timothy is asked for help by a beautiful woman, Lucy, whose mixed race son and sister have disappeared. Timothy and Valentine uncover corruption all along the way and at the highest level in their attempts to reveal the truth. Real-life characters blend with the fictional in a fascinating mix.
The Gods of Gotham had a more convoluted plot than Seven for a Secret in my opinion, but this latest book is no less fascinating. This book can be read without reading the first in the series, but having read the back story I did feel it helped, particularly with the nature of the relationship between Valentine and Timothy.
One final detail - if you've ever wondered where the expression 'OK' came from, this book gives what may be the definitive answer. Recommended.
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