I had great hopes for this book — a thriller set in 19th century New York City. But it turned out to be MUCH more your ordinary crime-mystery-thriller, and much less about NYC’s history. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.
This is the second novel in a series by Paddy Hirsch, who is also a journalist and the editor for one of NPR’s economics podcasts, The Indicator. Set in 1803, when NYC was still a small town geographically limited to the Wall Street area, Marshall (that’s a title, not a first name) Justy Flanagan finds himself investigating the murder of a teenage girl. The plot gets increasingly complicated as the novel progresses — involving rival gangs, turf wars, prostitution, escaped slaves, land grabs, and corrupt politicians. And Flanagan discovers that even those you trust most can turn out to be working for the other side.
If you’re a lover of thrillers, you will probably enjoy this. There’s plenty of action and quite a bit of violence. But if, like me, you’re interested in learning more about NYC’s origins, this won’t be very satisfying.
Most of the historical reality came from Hirsch’s incorporation of outdated language, which I assume is authentic to this time period. But there’s so much of it that he had to include an 8-page glossary at the book’s end which I, unfortunately, did not discover until mid-way through the book. So I wound up struggling to piece together what people were actually saying to one another and what was happening in the plot. Most annoying!
As a result, I’m unlikely to pick up another book in this series. But I WILL continue listening to The Indicator, which I DO recommend.
Learn more about the author.