Book #58 was In the Shadow of Gotham, the first book in Stefanie Pintoff’s Simon Ziele series. The back of the book reads:
Stefanie Pintoff’s acclaimed and award-winning debut is the taut historical tale of Detective Simon Ziele, a man who lost his fiancée in the 1904 General Slocum ferry disaster and thereafter flees New York City for Dobson, New York, to escape the memories of her death. But months into his tenure, he catches the worst homicide of his career: a young woman brutally murdered in her own bedroom in the middle of the afternoon. His investigation quickly takes him to Columbia University criminologist Alistair Sinclair and one of his patients. But what could lead this Michael Fromley, with his history of violent behavior, to target such a proper young lady? Is Michael really behind the murder or is someone mimicking him? Ziele must discover the truth in this story of a haunted man on the trail of a killer while on the run from his own demons.
I saw Pintoff’s books recommended in an article by Jason Pinter, and knew immediately that I had to add them to my wish list. This was an entertaining depiction of turn-of-the-century investigation, where one often had to rely more upon luck than physical evidence. Not only do we see the earliest days of forensics, where even fingerprinting is brand new, but we see the beginnings of the use of criminology. It’s a time period I find particularly interesting to read about; a world caught somewhere between the past and the present.
I liked Simon Ziele. He was a little bit of a fish out of water in the rural town we meet him in, but really comes into his own once he is let loose upon the city again. He’s fragile in a way; not just physically, but emotionally. The ferry disaster that took the life of his fiancé has affected him in ways he would rather not reveal. You want to root for him to not only have success professionally, but to find happiness personally.
As for the mystery, it spins its wheels a bit at times until Ziele turns to the techniques he finds tried and true. Despite the study of criminology being central to the story, it’s not the star in the end. The reveal didn’t completely surprise me, but parts of it did.
A good historical mystery always pleases me, so I look forward to reading more of Pintoff’s series.
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IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM by Stefanie Pintoff: Book Review
Page count: 400 (’11 total: 16,142) | Approximate word count: 110,000 (’11 total: 5,664,670)
2010: Just Before Sunrise (Carla Neggers)
2009: April & Oliver (Tess Callahan)
2008: In the Midst of Death (Lawrence Block)
2007: O is for Outlaw (Sue Grafton)
2006: Fatal (Michael Palmer)
2005: Ten Big Ones (Janet Evanovich)
Used in these Challenges: Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011;