21 February 2010

31 Bond Street; Ellen Horan

31 Bond Street: A Novel 31 Bond Street: A Novel by Ellen Horan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd originally thought that this was a True Crime book, but it's actually historical fiction based on a True Crime (that of the 1857 murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell). The evocation of the era is well done, and I think readers will be surprised to discover that New York, a Northern city, had many Southern sympathizers and that former/runaway slaves were not always safe here. The references to Tammany Hall may confuse readers, as I don't think it's studied as much as it was back when I was in school. However, the taint of corruption of witnesses and politicians is certainly relevant today.

The "scientific" evidence for the trial is rather amusing; we think today of DNA and other CSI/Bones-like analysis while 150 years ago science was basically very educated guesses about the height/strength of the murderer.

The ending, with a brief mention of the real parties in this tale, is a little unsatisfying. I would have enjoyed knowing more about Oakley Hall, Clinton and some of the others, but now will have something to research!

ARC provided by publisher.

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