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The Gods of Gotham [Hardcover]

Lyndsay Faye
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 20 2012

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.


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Review

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!” —Michael Connelly


“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


“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


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


“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


“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


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


“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


“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


“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


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


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


“It’s been almost twenty years since Caleb Carr’s bestselling Olde New York crime novel, The Alienist, was published, and I can’t 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




“Put Lyndsay Faye’s The Gods of Gotham on your to-buy list. . . . A treat for readers.” —USA Today




 “[A] rollicking historical novel . . . sensational account . . ." —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review


“Vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“[A] top-notch historical thriller  . . . Faye’s richly imagined, superbly plotted narrative . . . delivers not one, not two, but three bravura twists.” —Kirkus Reviews



“Faye’s new novel . . . dramatically light[s] up this turbulent era. [Her] use of flash, an underground language akin to thieves’ cant (British criminal jargon), further enriches this engrossing historical thriller.” —Library Journal (starred review)





One of Kirkus Review’s Top 10 Best Crime Novels of 2012

About 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 www.lyndsayfaye.com.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History and mystery and a very good read March 15 2012
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A really enjoyable historical mystery! May 22 2012
By Darlene TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I received this audiobook for review from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

This story takes place in New York City during the time of the Irish Potato Famine, which sends many Irish people abroad in search of a better life. Timothy Wilde has had a hard life. When he was just a youngster, his parents were killed in a fire that ravaged their home and barn. Only he and his older brother, Valentine, survived. Valentine became a pseudo-father to his younger brother and took care of him, and Timothy grew up to be a bartender. It was an honest job for pretty good pay, and he saved every dime he earned so that he could offer something to the apple of his eye, Mercy Underhill. And then, the unthinkable happens: Another fire destroys the bar where he works, as well as his home. Not only have all of his savings been melted in the fire, but his face is also scarred by burns. His dreams have now been destroyed, and he has nothing.

Valentine arranges a job for Timothy as a "Copper Star" in the newly-founded police force. Timothy rents a room above a bakery owned by a widow, Mrs. Boehm. A young ten year-old girl, Bird Daley, literally runs into Timothy one evening and she is covered in blood. Rather than take her to the police, Timothy takes her back to Mrs. Boehm's place. The girl has a penchant for lying, and she tells Timothy one falsehood after another. Because of Bird, he is thrown into the city's largest homicide case: Kinchin mabs (aka child prostitutes) are being killed and mutilated, with large crosses cut into their chests.

Because of her volunteer work with the poor, Mercy Underhill is drawn into the investigation to identify a victim.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic read Jan. 9 2014
By Edie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great book very well written. Great character development. Historically accurate. Couldn't put the book down. A very engaging story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Bogged down Dec 2 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good concept but not carried out well. I couldn't wait to finish it to move on to something more enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A treat to read July 18 2013
Format:Hardcover
I grabbed a copy of this novel at Costco on a whim, and am very glad I did. The author draws you immediately into the streets of New York and introduces you to a cast of highly individual but believable characters. Book clubs: have a look at what the author does with gender- it can be v interesting at times. You will not regret reading this book!
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