Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham

"The Gods of Gotham’ is an inferno of a book – on fire and blazing a red hot trail through today’s crime fiction."


The year is the summer of 1845 in New York and with the heat there are tensions bubbling under the surface waiting to break out. The city is groaning under the weight of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine of their homeland and looking for a new beginning. However, the natives aren’t exactly friendly. The Irish faith is also under question and what should have been a new dream has become a living nightmare. To face these troubles a new police force is formed and one of the first recruits is Timothy Wilde, brother of Valentine Wilde who uses his social standing to induct Tim as a police officer. But Tim wishes his elder brother would simply leave him alone to get on with his own life.

Starting a new life in his ‘precinct’ Timothy Wilde begrudgingly takes to life a as ‘copper star’ until one night on his rounds a young girl runs in to him, her dress covered in blood. It is this single event that leads Wilde deep underground to the brothels of New York who supply the usual, but also something a little different if the client so wishes. It isn’t until his new charge leads Wilde to some scrubland that a shattering secret kept many years is revealed. With this latest discovery Wilde is determined to get to the truth.

As tempers fray between New Yorkers and the Irish in the heat of the day Tim Wilde must search deep to find the culprit who has the blood of so many innocents on his hands, but little does he realise that this case will have such an impact on his own life.

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‘The Gods of Gotham is a thrilling and beguiling Gothic tale of innocence, the antagonism between brothers, faith and a nation standing on the precipice of a new age. Faye is extremely adept at characterisation, bringing the people on the page to life. The love/hate relationship of the Wilde brothers is well portrayed without getting tedious and it is good to not have the hero as tall, dark and handsome. If anything Tim is short, fair and after being caught in an explosion, anything but handsome. I greatly enjoyed Faye’s creations of George Washington Matsell and his sidekick, Mr. Piest who is macabre and believable and Madam Marsh who is cold and calculating and could easily been conceived by the great Dickens himself. Faye brings the city of New York alive and you can tell through her writing that she has a great love and respect for the city despite depicting its darker depths. By using the rogue’s patter of ‘flash’ Faye adds another dimension to her book. I felt that it took me a little time to find the rhythm of the language but once I was settled Faye manages to include the language with fluidity, without it jarring and it simply becomes another piece of the tapestry she is sewing upon the page. This is a new and exciting historical novel which has everything that will entrap a reader to devour Faye’s spellbinding tale. ‘The Gods of Gotham’ is an inferno of a book – on fire and blazing a red hot trail through today’s crime fiction.

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