The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde Series #1)

The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde Series #1)

4.2 64
by Lyndsay Faye

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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, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan,


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, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning 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 untested "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 returning from his rounds, heartsick and defeated, Timothy 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.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Ross King
[Faye's] newly minted investigators in 19th-century Gotham will bring to mind works such as Caleb Carr's The Alienist and E.L. Doctorow's The Waterworks. Faye thrillingly evokes the full range of megalopolitan horrors…She artfully weaves history and politics, particularly the age's ugly sectarianism, adding literary heft without weighing the novel down…there's enough excitement here to cause anyone's veins to quiver, and the plot hurtles along like…stampeding cattle.
The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
…rollicking…juicy…Faye's canvas is a crowded one, with vibrant characters jumping out of the plot to contribute local color.
Publishers Weekly
Set in 1845 New York City, Faye’s knockout first in a new series improves on her impressive debut, Dust and Shadow (2009), which pitted Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper. As Irish immigrants pour into the city, fleeing the potato famine in their homeland, Timothy Wilde, a 27-year-old former bartender, adjusts to life as a policeman in New York’s newly formed police force. As one of the first to wear the copper star, Wilde soon discovers more than one unwelcome surprise. In short order on his lower Manhattan beat, he runs across an infanticide and the body of a 12-year-old Irish boy whose spleen has been removed. The investigation the novice detective launches into the boy’s murder brings him deep into the heart of human darkness. Vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of a twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr. Readers will look forward to the sequel. Agent: Erin Malone, William Morris. (Mar.)
People Magazine
With echoes of Gangs of New York, Faye's taut, intelligent thriller mesmerizes.
USA Today
If your concept of paradise is popping in A DVD of Gangs Of New York while rereading Calab Carr's The Alienist, then put Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham on your to-buy list
Library Journal
Faye's new novel, after the Sherlockian thriller Dust and Shadow, focuses on the growing distrust toward Irish Catholic immigrants in 1840s New York. Badly scarred and rendered destitute after a city fire, barman Timothy Wilde takes a job on the newly formed police force at the urging of his politically connected older brother, Valentine. As a "Copper Star," Tim is well suited to investigation, and he stumbles on a mystery involving murdered children and one of New York's most infamous brothels. Mercy Underhill, a devoted social worker and the object of Tim's unspoken affection, is drawn into the case as she tries to protect her wards. Tim searches for answers amid political scheming, nativist sentiments, and anti-Catholic riots. VERDICT The Wilde brothers are a valiantly flawed pair (they commit illegal acts for good reasons) whose adventures dramatically light up this turbulent era. Faye's use of flash, an underground language akin to thieves' cant (British criminal jargon), further enriches this engrossing historical thriller, the first in a new series. [See Prepub Alert, 10/2/11.]—Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Displaying the same gift for characterization that refreshed her retelling of the Jack the Ripper case (Dust and Shadow, 2009), Faye crafts a top-notch historical thriller. This time around, she's invented her own plot. In July 1845, Timothy Wilde is a successful bartender who's accumulated $400 in silver--just about enough, he figures, to ask minister's daughter Mercy Underhill to marry him. But the conflagration that sweeps through Manhattan that night consumes Timothy's savings and disfigures his face. It's the second time fire has upended his life; an earlier blaze orphaned Timothy and older brother Valentine when they were children, leaving them to fend for themselves on the city's brutal, indifferent streets like so many other "kinchin." (Faye makes savory use of 19th-century thieves' slang throughout.) Timothy reluctantly becomes a "copper star," so-called for the badge worn by members of New York's newly created police force. Valentine, a stalwart of the city's Democratic political machine, gets him the job, but tensions seethe between the brothers that seem to involve more than Valentine's addiction to morphine. When Timothy stumbles across a young girl covered with blood, who leads him to the mass grave of 20 kinchin horribly disfigured apparently at the hands of a Catholic fanatic, political scandal and religious riot threaten. No one is precisely what they seem in Faye's richly imagined, superbly plotted narrative, which delivers not one, not two, but three bravura twists as Timothy tracks the killer and tangles with a well-connected madam, Mercy's anti-Catholic father and gangs of nativist thugs. The tough police chief and a doctor who has devoted his life to caring for New York's neglected children are among those who aid Timothy's quest, which concludes with a gruff, moving reconciliation and a sorrowful parting. Faye's damaged but appealing hero seems likely to have more adventures ahead, and they'll be welcomed by anyone who appreciates strong, atmospheric storytelling.
From the Publisher
"The Gods of Gotham is a wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable, and her knowlege of human character even more so. I bought into this world in the opening pages and never once had the desire to leave. It's a great read!"—Michael Connelly

"The launch of a brilliant new mystery series, set in 1845 New York City: Irish Potato Famine, the birth of the police force, brothels and bedlam."— Gillian Flynn

"It's been almost twenty years since Caleb Carr's bestselling Olde New York crime novel, The Alienist, was published, and I cant count the number of times since then that someone has asked me if I can recommend a suspense story anything 'like it.' Well, New York has inspired lots of terrific thrillers, but I've just stumbled on one of the worthiest successors yet. Lyndsay Faye's novel, The Gods of Gotham."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

“If your concept of paradise is popping in a DVD of Gangs of New York while rereading Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, then put Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham on your to-buy list.”—USA Today

“There’s enough excitement here to cause anyone’s veins to quiver.”—The Washington Post

“Riveting.”—The New York Times

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Timothy Wilde Series, #1
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.36(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


When I set down the initial report, sitting at my desk at the Tombs, I wrote:

On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped.

Of all the sordid trials a New York City policeman faces every day, you wouldn't expect the one I loathe most to be paperwork. But it is. I get snakes down my spine just thinking about case files.

Police reports are meant to read "X killed Y by means of Z." But facts without motives, without the story, are just road signs with all the letters worn off . Meaningless as blank tombstones. And I can't bear reducing lives to the lowest of their statistics. Case notes give me the same parched-headed feeling I get after a night of badly made New England rum. There's no room in the dry march of data to tell why people did bestial things—love or loathing, defense or greed. Or God, in this particular case, though I don't suppose God was much pleased by it.

If He was watching. I was watching, and it didn't please me any too keenly.

For instance, look what happens when I try to write an event from my childhood the way I'm required to write police reports: In October 1826, in the hamlet of Greenwich Village, a fire broke out in a stable flush adjacent to the home of Timothy Wilde, his elder brother, Valentine Wilde, and his parents, Henry and Sarah; though the blaze started small, both of the adults were killed when the con flagration spread to the main house by means of a kerosene explosion.

I'm Timothy Wilde, and I'll say right off , that tells you nothing. Nix. I've drawn pictures with charcoal all my life to busy my fingers, loosen the feeling of taut cord wrapped round my chest. A single sheet of butcher paper showing a gutted cottage with its blackened bones sticking out would tell you more than that sentence does.

But I'm getting better used to documenting crimes now that I wear the badge of a star police. And there are so many casualties in our local wars over God. I grant there must have been a time long ago when to call yourself a Catholic meant your bootprint was stamped on Protestant necks, but the passage of hundreds of years and a wide, wide ocean ought to have drowned that grudge between us, if anything could. Instead here I sit, penning a bloodbath. All those children, and not only the children, but grown Irish and Americans and anyone ill-starred enough to be caught in the middle, and I only hope that writing it might go a way toward being a fit memorial. When I've spent enough ink, the sharp scratch of the specifics in my head will dull a little, I'm hoping. I'd assumed that the dry wooden smell of October, the shrewd way the wind twines into my the gods of gotham coat sleeves now, would have begun erasing the nightmare of August by this time.

I was wrong. But I've been wrong about worse.

Here's how it began, now that I know the girl in question better and can write as a man instead of a copper star:

On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped. The little girl was aged ten, sixty-two pounds, dressed in a delicate white shift with a single row of lace along the wide, finely stitched collar. Her dark auburn curls were pulled into a loose knot at the top of her head. The breeze through the open casement felt hot where her nightdress slipped from one shoulder and her bare feet touched the hardwood. She suddenly wondered if there could be a spyhole in her bedroom wall. None of the boys or girls had ever yet found one, but it was the sort of thing they would do. And that night, every pocket of air seemed breath on flesh, slowing her movements to sluggish, watery starts.

She exited through the window of her room by tying three stolen ladies' stockings together and fixing the end to the lowest catch on the iron shutter. Standing up, she pulled her nightgown away from her body. It was wet through to her skin, and the clinging fabric made her flesh crawl. When she'd stepped blindly out the window clutching the hose, the August air bloated and pulsing, she slid down the makeshift rope before dropping to an empty beer barrel.

The child quit Greene Street by way of Prince before facing the wild river of Broadway, dressed for her bedroom and hugging the shadows like a lifeline. Everything blurs on Broadway at ten o'clock at night. She braved a flash torrent of watered silk. Glib-eyed men in double vests of black velvet stampeded into saloons cloaked from floor to ceiling in mirrors. Stevedores, politicians, merchants, a group of newsboys with unlit cigars tucked in their rosy lips. A thousand floating pairs of vigilant eyes. A thousand ways to be caught. And the sun had fallen, so the frail sisterhood haunted every corner: chalk-bosomed whores desperately pale beneath the rouge, their huddles of five and six determined by brothel kinships and by who wore diamonds and who could only aff ord cracked and yellowing paste copies.

The little girl could spot out even the richest and healthiest of the street bats for what they really were. She knew the mabs from the ladies instantly.

When she spied a gap in the buttery hacks and carriages, she darted like a moth out of the shadows. Willing herself invisible, winging across the huge thoroughfare eastward. Her naked feet met the slick, tarry waste that curdled up higher than the cobbles, and she nearly stumbled on a gnawed ear of corn.

Her heart leaped, a single jolt of panic. She'd fall—they'd see her and it would all be over.

Did they kill the other kinchin slow or quick?

But she didn't fall. The carriage lights veering off scores of plateglass windows were behind her, and she was flying again. A few girlish gasps and one yell of alarm marked her trail.

Nobody chased her. But that was nobody's fault, really, not in a city of this size. It was only the callousness of four hundred thousand people, blending into a single blue-black pool of unconcern. Th at's what we copper stars are for, I think . . . to be the few who stop and look.

She said later that she was seeing in badly done paintings— everything crude and two-dimensional, the brick buildings dripping watercolor edges. I've suff ered that state myself, the not-being-there.

She recollects a rat gnawing at a piece of oxtail on the pavement, then nothing. Stars in a midsummer sky. The light clatter of the New York and Harlem train whirring by on iron railway tracks, the coats of its two overheated horses wet and oily in the gaslight. A passenger in a stovepipe hat staring back blankly the way they'd come, trailing his watch over the window ledge with his fingertips. The door open the gods of gotham on a sawdusty slaughter shop, as they're called, half-finished cabinetry and dismembered chairs pouring into the street, as scattered as her thoughts.

Then another length of clotted silence, seeing nothing. She reluctantly pulled the stiff ening cloth away from her skin once more. The girl veered onto Walker Street, passing a group of dandies with curled and gleaming soaplocks framing their monocles, fresh and vigorous after a session with the marble baths of Stoppani's. They thought little enough of her, though, because of course she was running hell for leather into the cesspit of the Sixth Ward, and so naturally she must have belonged there.

She looked Irish, after all. She was Irish. What sane man would worry over an Irish girl flying home?

Well, I would.

I lend considerably more of my brain to vagrant children. I'm much closer to the question. First, I've been one, or near enough to it. Second, star police are meant to capture the bony, grime-cheeked kinchin when we can. Corral them like cattle, then pack them in a locked wagon rumbling up Broadway to the House of Refuge. The urchins are lower in our society than the Jersey cows, though, and herding is easier on livestock than on stray humans. Children stare back with something too hot to be malice, something helpless yet fiery when police corner them . . . something I recognize. And so I will never, not under any circumstances, never will I do such a thing. Not if my job depended on it. Not if my life did. Not if my brother's life did.

I wasn't musing over stray kids the night of August twenty-first, though. I was crossing Elizabeth Street, posture about as stalwart as a bag of sand. Half an hour before, I'd taken my copper star off in disgust and thrown it against a wall. By that point, however, it was shoved in my pocket, digging painfully into my fingers along with my house key, and I was cursing my brother's name in a soothing inner prayer. Feeling angry is far and away easier for me than feeling lost.

God damn Valentine Wilde, I was repeating, and God damn every bright idea in his goddamned head.

Then the girl slammed into me unseeing, aimless as a torn piece of paper on the wind.

I caught her by the arms. Her dry, flitting eyes shone out pale grey even in the smoke-sullied moonlight, like shards of a gargoyle's wing knocked from a church tower. She had an unforgettable face, square as a picture frame, with somber swollen lips and a perfect snub nose. There was a splash of faint freckles across the tops of her shoulders, and she lacked height for a ten-year-old, though she carried herself so fluid that she can seem taller in memory than in person.

But the only thing I noticed clearly when she stumbled to a halt against my legs as I stood in front of my house that night was how very thoroughly she was covered in blood.


What People are saying about this

Otto Penzler
Reading The Gods of Gotham is like being magically transported to another time. You'll be overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, smells, and chaos of New York in the 1840s, while never losing sight of the fact that this is a first-rate crime novel for any era. I can't wait to see what Lyndsay Faye will conjure next. (Otto Penzler, The Mysterious Bookshop)
Katherine Howe
Lyndsay Faye's exquisite new novel, The Gods of Gotham, plunges us into the teeming, sordid streets of old New York. But this is no Whartonian idyll—Faye's Manhattan is a raucous underworld of criminals and chiselers, the infamous Five Points, where thieves speak their own argot, the sanitation department consists of free-running pigs, and Tammany-backed 'dead rabbits' rule with an iron fist. In this vivid and impeccably crafted adventure, newly minted 'copper star' Timothy Wilde is the only man who can solve a series of gruesome murders plaguing Gotham. Faye's prose crackles with historical authenticity so cunningly rendered that readers will lose themselves from the very first turn of the page. (Katherine Howe, bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane)
Louis Bayard
Penetrating psychological study, flawless social history, beautifully crafted thriller . . . The Gods of Gotham is all these things, and a crackling great yarn to boot. Old New York has never been so blazingly alive. Lyndsay Faye is a writer to watch—and keep watching. (Louis Bayard, author of The School of Night)
Michael Connelly
The Gods of Gotham is 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 in the opening pages and never once had the desire to leave. It's a great read!
Leslie S. Klinger
Lyndsay Faye makes it look easy to write a great historical mystery: First, research the hell out of a remote time period, painstakingly paint a picture of that alien world (in this case, mid-nineteenth-century New York), and then craft a story so compelling that the reader forgets that it's alien! Her masterful Dust and Shadow reinvigorated Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, but this wholly different tale confirms a talent far beyond her (damn her) thirty-year-old age. (Leslie S. Klinger, author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes)
Alafair Burke
With crisp prose, memorable characters, and an impressive respect for its historic setting, The Gods of Gotham pulls you into old New York's days of the Five Points. Lyndsay Faye is a writer to watch. (Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone)
Timothy J. Gilfoyle
The Gods of Gotham is a detective tale set in an era before the invention of the detective. Fully captured are the vibrant scenes and vivid characters of 1840s New York: cavernous oyster saloons, gutter rats feasting on oxtail, righteous abolitionists haranguing skeptics, opulent Greene Street brothels, and much more. Lyndsay Faye captures antebellum New York in all its warped beauty and pornographic decadence. (Timothy J. Gilfoyle, professor and chair of history, Loyola University Chicago)
Laurie R. King
Intriguingly complex yet deliciously smooth, The Gods of Gotham is, in a word, stunning. The vivid characters and deft use of the historical setting read like the work of an established writer at the top of her (or indeed, his) career—that Faye is a newcomer is cause for an exuberance of fireworks, at the mere thought of so many superb novels yet to come. (Laurie R. King, New York Times-bestselling author of The God of the Hive and The Beekeeper's Apprentice)
Daniel Stashower
The Gods of Gotham is a revelation. Lyndsay Faye puts the drive and passion of a modern thriller onto the mean streets of 1840s New York. She brings a fascinating page of history to life with a gripping, twisty plot, vivid characters, and seamless research. This is historical fiction at its best. (Daniel Stashower, two-time Edgar-winning author of Teller of Tales and The Beautiful Cigar Girl)
Stefanie Pintoff
The Gods of Gotham is an enthralling novel that immediately pulls readers into its twisting tale of murder, conspiracy, and socio-religious turmoil. With an engaging narrator, smart rendering of time and place, and gripping suspense, this superb story is virtually impossible to put down. (Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar-winning author of In the Shadow of Gotham)
From the Publisher
"The Gods of Gotham is a wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable, and her knowlege of human character even more so. I bought into this world in the opening pages and never once had the desire to leave. It's a great read!"—Michael Connelly

"The launch of a brilliant new mystery series, set in 1845 New York City: Irish Potato Famine, the birth of the police force, brothels and bedlam."— Gillian Flynn

"It's been almost twenty years since Caleb Carr's bestselling Olde New York crime novel, The Alienist, was published, and I cant count the number of times since then that someone has asked me if I can recommend a suspense story anything 'like it.' Well, New York has inspired lots of terrific thrillers, but I've just stumbled on one of the worthiest successors yet. Lyndsay Faye's novel, The Gods of Gotham."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air
“If your concept of paradise is popping in a DVD of Gangs of New York while rereading Caleb Carr’s The Alienist, then put Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham on your to-buy list.”—USA Today
“There’s enough excitement here to cause anyone’s veins to quiver.”—The Washington Post
“Riveting.”—The New York Times

Matthew Pearl
Lyndsay Faye is a superstar-caliber writer. She confidently and exquisitely re-creates the past while her characters live on with you in the present, the elusive gold standard for a historical novel. The Gods of Gotham is a gift to the genre that readers will surely relish while we wait for Faye's next one. (Matthew Pearl, bestselling author of The Dante Club)
Laura Caldwell
The Gods of Gotham blew me away. Unflinching and bold, creative and dazzling, cinematic: nineteenth-century New York is alive. (Laura Caldwell, author of Long Way Home and Claim of Innocence)
Maureen Corrigan
Well, New York has inspired lots of terrific thrillers, but I've just stumbled on one of the worthiest successors yet, Lyndsay Faye's novel, The Gods of Gotham. (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air)

Meet the Author

Lyndsay Faye is the author of critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow and is featured in Best American Mystery Stories 2010. Faye, a true New Yorker in the sense that she was born elsewhere, lives in Manhattan with her husband, Gabriel. To learn more about Lyndsay Faye, please visit

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The Gods of Gotham 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye's is newly released novel today. And it's definitely one you want to get your hands on! "On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped." I was captured from that opening line - hook line and sinker. History and mystery combined is a sure bet for me and Faye did not disappoint. 1845 is a turning point in the history of New York City. Thousands of immigrants fleeing from the potato famine in Ireland settle in the city and the first formal police force is formed. That line? It's from a report written by 'copper star' Timothy Wilde, a policeman in the Sixth Ward - home to the notorious Five Points and more. Wilde has been hired on based on the recommendation of his bigger than life brother, Valentine. And also on his knowledge of 'flash'. " Flash, or flash-patter, is the curious dialect spoken by foisters, panel thieves, bruisers, dice burners, confidence men, street rats, news hawkers, addicts, and Valentine.....It's not a language, exactly - it's more like a code." Faye provides us with a mini lexicon in the beginning of the book, based on George Washington Matsell's actual book from 1859. (Take the Penguin 'Flash" quiz here.)Matsell is also a character in the book. I loved the amount of history and detail that Lyndsay Faye has woven into her book. It brought the time period to life - the political machinations, the religious unrest, the racial prejudice and the social fabric of the time provided a engrossing backdrop for a delicious plot. Faye's prose paint vivid pictures: (It's a long passage but especially good!) "If there's a wider street on earth than Broadway, a street more roiling, a street with a more dizzying pendulum swing between starving opium fiends with the rags rotting off of them and ladies in walking gowns bedecked like small steamships, I can't imagine it nor do I want to. Colored footmen sitting atop phaetons and wearing summer straw hats and pale green linen coats whirred past me that morning, one nearly colliding with a Jewess selling ribbons from a wide hinged box hung around her neck. Ice delivery men from the Knickerbocker Company, shoulders knotted with painful-seeming muscles, strained with iron tongs to hoist frozen blocks onto carts and then wheeled their cargo into the opulent hotels before the guests awoke. And weaving in and out, mud-crusted and randy and miraculously nimble, trotted the speckled pigs, rubbery snouts nuzzling the trampled beet leaves. Everything begrimed but the storefront window panes, everything for sale but the cobblestones, everyone pulsing with energy but never meeting your eye" But what really grabbed me were the characters. Timothy's life changes radically over the course of the book. From a bartender saving his coins, dreaming of marriage and a small piece of land to being consumed with solving the child murder cases that have fallen in his lap - and finding out he's very good at it. "I wanted to know how they came to be there like very little else I've ever wanted, and I'd never felt so about a puzzle before....this was a single goal, a mountain to climb and see the top with your own eyes, and I needed to know." The relationship between Timothy and his brother Valentine is a mystery to be solved as well. I loved the cast of eclectic supporting characters - especially Mr. Piest and George Matsell. Lyndsay Faye has combined a great mystery with a fascinating look at history and engaging characters, all of which kept me up late, rapidly turning 'just one more page'. I truly hope that that Faye has plans to continue on with these characters. **Just found in an interview with Kirkus reviews...."The first draft of the sequel is finished, actually. It’s the winter of 1846, about six months later, and in it I merrily continue to do terrible, terrible things to Tim and Val." Fans of Caleb Carr's The Alienist would enjoy this book. And author Michael Connelly says "A wonderful book. Lyndsay Faye's command of historical detail is remarkable and her knowledge of hum"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 in the opening pages and never once had the desire to leave. It's a great read." Five stars for me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Left my living room eagerly by the second paragraph and returned from 1845 New York City begrudgingly every hundred pages or so. Unseasonably warm, gorgeous spring weather did not entice me to leave this story unread. Perfect balance of real characters, unexpected plotting and masterful command and pacing of prose place this book at the top of my recommend list.
Gracie_L More than 1 year ago
Expertly written and devilishly engrossing. I could not have asked for a better novel. The characters are believeable, loveable and dramatically human. They make mistakes and they grow. They learn and they love. This is a perfect piece of historical fiction that makes the reader feel as if they are actually in New York in 1845. Lyndsay Faye is an excellent writer and it is so refreshing to read something with that much depth. You can read the books overview above, so I won't go into detail about that. But I will tell you that it has been a while since I have read a book that captured and captivated me since page one. You won't be disappointed.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
If you were a fan of TV's NYPD Blue, and you like historical fiction then Lyndsay Faye's novel The Gods of Gotham is for you. Set in 1845, it tells the story of the origins of the NYPD through the story of Timothy Wilde. (If Andy Sipowicz were around in 1845, he'd fit right in.) Tim is genial bartender who knows everyone in the neighborhood.  He is seriously injured in a fire, and after recuperating, his brother Val gets him a job in the newly formed New York Police Department, called "the copper stars" after the copper badges they carry. Hence, the slang "copper" for police. Tim is none too pleased with his job. Cops are looked upon with suspicion by the general public, and he is assigned to the worse section of the city, the slums in Five Points. Not to mention that he is in great pain from his burns. One night he runs into a small girl covered in blood. She is too traumatized to tell him what happened, so he takes her to his apartment where his landlady helps to care for the girl. She tells Tim that there are several bodies of young children buried in the woods; a serial killer is on the loose. The Gods of Gotham drops the reader right smack into the middle of 1845 New York City, with interesting characters trying to solve a crackling good murder mystery. We meet a doctor who uses early forensic methods to determine how and who killed these children,  a priest whose church is the site of a horrible murder and a young female charity worker named Mercy who is a romantic interest for Tim. The writing evokes sensory reactions in the reader. We can smell the rot of the slums and feel the shame of the daily taunts and slights that the Irish immigrants are subjected to as they try to assimilate and make lives for themselves and their families. The Irish became 'coppers' because it was not thought to be a respectable job, and therefore no decent man would want to do it. Through the NYPD, the Irish gained a foothold politically, and the corruption that follows is a theme in this fascinating novel. I liked the character development; Tim and his brother Val's relationship is particularly well done. The plot is well-paced and although I do not like blood and gore, what is here is essential to the story and not overdone. One particularly memorable scene involves a mother and her baby that is so very sad, it made my heart ache. The attention to historical detail is impeccable. I could study the map of 1845 New York City on the inside cover for hours, and the quotes at the beginning of each chapter are interesting as well. Fans of historical literary murder mysteries, like Caleb Carr's The Alienist, will love  The Gods of Gotham. I'm not the only one who feels this way; Faye was nominated for a 2012 Edgar Award for this enthralling mystery. And I was not surprised to find that this book was originally published by Amy Einhorn; she always finds the good ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Such a great story, with wonderful characters. If you liked Devil in the White City, you'll like this. Faye describes everything in such a magical way, you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author is to be commended for her research into life in New York during the 1840s. However, it seemed like I was just reading a book on American History. The plot was weak and there was little incentive to Get back to it. I learned a lot about my ancestors but was not too entertained in a literary fashion.
TuleLove More than 1 year ago
What can I say....Loved It!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. If you enjoyed Caleb Carr's The Alienist then you'll love this book. I hope this isn't the last we see of these characters.
2-Psychos More than 1 year ago
Excellent story telling. It was very exciting to follow along with the birth of not only a New York Police force but also the development of a Sherlock Holmes type of Detective. Timothy Wilde proves to be a quick study of detective by observation and guile to solve what appears to be several murders. Without DNA, fingerprints or any other "forensic" type assistance he pursues the case to its conclusion. He experiences many heartfelt emotions both uplifting and throughly depressing. However, he does overcome it all to successfully solve the mystery. The style of writing flows smoothly thru a New York City that is in the becoming of a major metropolis in the new America. The problems of the melting pot country are used as a backdrop for this fascinating story. We see the conflicts of a changing map of the City, politically, culturally, and religiously. All in all I can't wait to see if Timothy returns for more mystery and adventure. And I would like to know how Bird and Mercy make out in their new pursuits.
MMMNJ More than 1 year ago
Take a gander! Completely Flash! Savvy? Love the language and the turns of phrase. Well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author successfully puts the reader right into the story while slyly explaining all that needs to be understood about the historical time and place. I will read more of Lyndsay Faye's work.
mab67 More than 1 year ago
I like that the author used history of our early nation as a backdrop the unlikely hero and the shocking villain are woven into the story as result of love and the deep seed hate for what one does not understand . I like it and you want be disappointed highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting story but the plotline and characters are too dark and disturbing to make it an enjoyable read. While the author is to be commended for his research, it's a case of TMI on every page. The heavy detail bogs down the story.
YellowLeaf73 More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book! I can't really add anything more to the Overview above. Be sure to check that out! I read THE GODS OF GOTHAM the week it was published. (I had just finished Faye's first novel, DUST AND SHADOW, a "newly discovered" Sherlock Holmes story -- which I give a 5 star rating to as well -- so I quickly recognized Faye's name.) I raved about both books to my friends, and I predicted to them that THE GODS OF GOTHAM will win book awards this year! It's that good on many levels! So I'm wishing that the Barnes and Noble stores will do a little more to "push" awareness of this book. I'd love to see a stack featured on an individual table! Perhaps put both of her books on a small feature table. They are that good! Lyndsay Faye is a superb writer who, I'm sure, will eventually be recognized as a major "new" talent. Let's make her famous now! I understand that THE GODS OF GOTHAM will be the first book in a series that will continue the story of Timothy, his brother, and the beginnings of the NYPD. I'm hooked and eagerly await her next book.
DesperatelySeekingReader More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Well written, interesting characters and a plot that moves right along. The depiction of early NYC and the formation of the police department was very colorful and very interesting. The plot had some interesting twists and turns and I look forward to another book by the this other with these characters. I'm told the movie Gangs of New York covers similar ground. This book arouses my interestest in the given period and locale. I only give 5 stars for a book that is destined to be a classic, even if only in my opinion, and one I may reread down the road.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written historical novel with real, well rounded, absorbing , flawed characters. Read in two nights and certainly hope to read more about Timothy in future novels. A must buy. Enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rarely find a novel so entertaining and instructive. Excellent narrative, razor sharp prose and a morbid eye for what is simultaneously fascinatingly foreign and completely modern in American history.
KWR57 More than 1 year ago
this is what historical fiction is all about. Heck this is what good fiction is all about. I rarely submit reviews, but this is one the best books I've read in awhile and my first novel from Miss Faye. I'm going to grab a few more of her titles today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
In 1845 New York, the city is full of contention because of all the Irish immigrants coming to America to escape the potato famine.  Everything is blamed on Catholicism, with numerous tracts written laying every ill at their feet.  There are some who want to help the poor and downtrodden and those who push for conversion to Protestantism before help will be given.  But life goes on anyway possible.  The houses of prostitution and the political party meetings are gathering places for the powerful and poor alike.  Within all this is the beginning of the New York "coppers"-- policeman who try to keep order within the city. Timothy Wilde was a barman until a tremendous fire burned a large part of the city.  His politically minded, fireman, older brother got him a job as a "copper".   When a ten year old girl, covered in blood, comes running and hollering down the street--"they're going to tear him to pieces", Timothy begins an adventure that also starts the beginning of a detective force that will investigate crimes rather than just try to keep the peace.  An adventure that will test everything within him. Religious, political, and other tensions are played out very well in this mystery .  Chapters are headed by quotes from the times.  The life styles of the people is very different but earlier similar to today in some places.  The characters drew me into the story immediately.  Though I suspected the culprits, I was still spellbound with the story.  Definitely good historical atmosphere written into a compelling mystery. I listened to the audio version, which added a lot to my enjoyment of this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
P6 More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of historical fiction and this was a good read. I liked the unusual premise of it being about the beginnings of detective work in New York. I didn't know 'who dunnit' until the author informed me. I can usually figure that out early in a story. I didn't this time. I loved all the background about the culture of New York in an earlier time. I am looking forward to the next in the series. It will be hard for the author to top this.
CasperLC More than 1 year ago
I saw this book at B&N for 3.99 I should have got it while I was there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lollo55 More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable if you like the time period and/ or if you enjoy reading about the immigrant struggle of the Irish to the U.S. Violence, discrimination, lawlessness, depravity and more will hold your interest with a bit of mystery added in. Fun to see how the author imagines modern day detective work might have begun. Without ruining it for you there are one or more instances where a character's actions simply do not ring true but a good read for sure!