“[Swerling] nimbly weaves fact-based history and fast-paced fiction into a vivid tableau of 1870s Manhattan" —Beth Johnson, Entertainment Weekly
“Run, do not walk, to purchase a copy of Beverly Swerling’s compulsively readable City of Promise.” —Mark Peikert, New York Press
“With a fast-paced, complex plot showcasing opulent Fifth Avenue mansions, Wall Street pandemonium, deals both fair and underhand, and the rising influence of the ethnic gangs, Swerling expertly interlaces the stories of a Gilded Age couple and their magnificent city. Compulsive reading that informs and entertains.” —Sarah Johnson, Booklist
“Clearly, if Swerling had been my history teacher, I would have paid closer attention. . . . These private and national escapades play out in a great swirl of plots and counter plots . . . riotously entertaining." —Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"The title city is New York. The age is gilded. The Civil War is about to end, and the author is tackling love, life, adventure, big business and the dazzling glamour and appalling squalor of the city that never sleeps. Even way back in the 1860s." —Anne Bendheim, Asbury Park Press (New Jersey)
“Swerling vividly captures the greed, corruption, violence, and banking failures that accompanied vast new advances in transportation, communication, and lighting during this era." —Publishers Weekly
"A whopping saga . . . teeming with bizarre medicine, slave uprisings, executions, thriving brothels, and occasional cannibalistic Indians. . . . A near perfect historical novel." —Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times, on City of Dreams
"The history of New York City, as told through the fiction of Beverly Swerling, just keeps getting better." —Terry Mapes, Mansfield News Journal (Ohio)
“The author brings the time alive with true characters . . . conflict, tension, romance, the upper and lower levels of society and a satisfying finale. Highly recommended.” —The Historical Novels Review, on City of Glory
Swerling (City of Dreams, 2001, etc.) continues her series of "city of" novels celebrating the history of New York.
This installment finds an unhappy young man named Joshua Turner freshly returned to Manhattan from service in the Civil War, during which he's lost a leg along the way and now sports a peg in its place. (Smoking gun warning: The peg comes into its own at a critical point in the story.) Joshua isn't one to be inconvenienced by such trifles: He's single-minded in the same way that his mogul successor Donald Trump is abrasive, though, admittedly, he's much less entertaining than The Donald. Alas, the war follows him home, first in the person of a pal's brother-in-law, a rebel spy caught in the act of a spectacular arson, and over whom Josh expresses regrets that he wasn't on hand to save the day. Writes said secessionist, "My dear brother-in-law and friend...Much as I hope for the success of our mission to burn New York to the ground, I also pray God that you and yours will somehow survive whatever turmoil we unleash." That "we" is an operative word, for Johnny Reb isn't alone in wanting to see bad things happen to Gotham, and Joshua is caught up in an intrigue that unfolds above and below the streets of the city over the years to come. Fortunately, he doesn't have to fight the battle alone; he's since won the heart of a former brothel inmate. The novel is competent enough, though the dialogue is a touch flat, the scenes sometimes too contrived and the yokels too yokely: "He's always walking around the city drawing things," says one. "Illustrations he calls 'em." Right.
Swerling doesn't promise more than she delivers, but this is still a rather ordinary novel. For a stronger thriller set in the same time and place, see Frederick Busch'sThe Night Inspector.