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VINE VOICEon August 19, 2011
You probably already have some of the story from the other blurbs but listen up anyway there's more to tell: The biggest bank robbery in the Big Apple's history, pulled off in broad daylight on one of the city's busiest commercial streets. Even in the annals of crime, the heist was brazen. This is the account of the detective who broke the case.

It's a story made all the more remarkable because the detective was a woman in a man's world and the first female police officer, later detective, in the history of the New York Police Department.

Her name was Isabella Goodwin, 47, and they ought to have given her a medal. They did, and one day in May 1912 after everything had pretty much settled down, a million New Yorkers, almost of fifth of the denizens of the metropolis give or take a few thousand, lined the streets as six thousand police officers marched by in a four-mile parade honoring the city's finest. There in the reviewing stand (which was probably festooned with red, white and blue bunting) on the corner of Forty-Second Street and Fifth Avenue, sat now-Detective Goodwin in a special seat of honor almost right next to the Mayor himself.

The Heist of the Century as the rags called it took place on 15 February 1912. By then the pattern of brute crime from some years back (anyone remember the Five Points Gang?) was a thing of the past that most people had forgotten. New York at the time was a place where for the most part strangers "would never harm strangers, institutions (such as banks) would never be touched by violence." For the most part. This day would be different. It would make history.

A couple of thugs waylaid a taxicab with cabbie and two bank messengers who were making a money transfer from the Produce Exchange Bank at No. 10 Church Street downtown, bludgeoned the messengers bloody and senseless (one of them was still a kid of 16) and then proceeded to make off with a cool $25,000, which even by today's standards is a tidy sum.

The coppers had an idea that Edward Kinsman, aka Ed Collins, aka Eddie "The Boob" might be behind the heist and a smart Deputy Police Commissioner named George S. Dougherty came up with the notion that a widowed police matron might be of some assistance in collaring the perpetrator.

Dougherty called down to the Mercer Street Station and said, "Send me Mrs. Goodwin." Dougherty figured the key to get to Eddie was to locate his moll, a tea dancer named "Swede Annie." Police matron Goodwin was just the ticket to get that done. And to get right to the short of it without giving too much away that's how things came down. And remember this all happened; you can check out the newspapers if you don't think so.

Other than the crime itself, there isn't too much action in this story. Or drama or even suspense. The sharp-eyed Mrs. Goodwin, who by-the-way had the tiniest feet you ever saw not that that means much, called on some good common sense. She employed her knack for making "people believe she was anyone she chose." Then she got out on the street and did some pretty straightforward gumshoeing.

But for what it might lack in drama, the story makes up in atmospherics. You get a real good sense of what it was like in Old New York, with all the dust, the stench, the clatter and clang. Another thing I should say is that the author really seems to know her stuff. She did her homework on this one.

Plus, and this is maybe the best part, the story has a real surprise for the ending. You're not going to believe it. It might even make you cry. So go find out yourself what happens next with Mrs. Goodwin.
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on August 18, 2011
What an amazing piece of journalism. When I read "Devil in the White City," I remember being surprised that no-one had written about such an fascinating, weird saga. I had the exact same feeling reading Elizabeth Mitchell's "The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin." The details here create such a vivid tapestry -- I'd be amazed if the story of Isabella Goodwin cracking this case doesn't end up on the big screen before too long. As someone who does almost all of his reading on the Kindle, it's also great being able to get access to work like this for less than it costs me to get a magazine at the airport.
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on August 31, 2011
The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin is a true story of a sensational bank robbery in New York City in 1912. The author cites articles and books, and the ingredients are all there: a brutal crime, a flophouse, a moll, New York City as a corrupt metropolis, and Mrs. Goodwin working as a police matron doing detective work when women weren't accepted as detectives.

I loved the setting and time of this piece, and to get a glimpse of the era. That all made the price of the Kindle Single worth it.

But the piece offers little more. First, it is badly in need of editing: there were paragraphs that didn't make sense, words that didn't belong in sentences, and many unnecessary details (as an example, the author used one of her 44 pages to describe a grisly fire scene that there was no reason for us to know about.) Secondly, it seems the story just ends, and, frankly, there isn't much "there" there. I wondered "What did I miss?" - it was very unsatisfying.

If I could I would tell the author: You've done your research. Use what you have as a springboard for a gripping fictional period piece.
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on August 18, 2011
Just bought book, and sat down to thumb through, well I never got up until I had finished every wonderful page..Mitchell paints a great visual picture of New York, the politics, graft, the hard life of a widow who was bright and determined, and made headlines by being the first NYC female detective.. Isabella Goodwin made a difference without burning her bra.....This obscure
piece of history has made me want to find out more about her.
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on August 19, 2011
If you are a fan of Luc Sante's Low Life or Caleb Carr's The Alienist, you will likely fall for The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin. Isabella Goodwin is the unsung (until now) ace detective of the New York police department of a century ago. And she is everything you'd want in an undercover cop: brave, sly, resourceful, and so good at trumping up accents that one bar owner won't hire her because he fears she's fresh off the boat. Like most gals, she's had some problems in her love life, but that doesn't stop her from doing her job. And her job evolves from mopping station house floors to busting violent criminals.
The real hero in this story, however, is Elizabeth Mitchell's prose, which vividly recreates a bygone New York of roundsmen, marks, Pinkertons, blowers, yeggs, tea dancers, shock-houses, Goo-Goos, bootblacks, and soothsayers. Hers is a metropolis choked with corrupt and ineffectual public officials, publicity-hungry celebrities, and greedy bankers. She shows how the city's many tabloids built up heroes, only to tear them down in the next news cycle.
It all feels strangely familiar, making this reader ask: Where is Mrs. Goodwin when we need her now?
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on August 19, 2011
this article suprised the heck out of me, could not put it down! This is a movie for SURE. Isabella Godwin is a classic hero, I love an undercover story that feels completely original. amazing that it is a tru story. super awesome
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on August 18, 2011
This fast-paced, riveting tale of New York's first female police sleuth reads like a novel but packs the wallop of truth. Elizabeth Mitchell paints a fascinatingly detailed portrait of New York a century ago--a teeming, bustling city filled with saloons, gambling dens, flophouses, crackpot psychics, pickpockets, and cops on the take. At the center of her tale is Isabella Goodwin, a lowly police matron whose wits and keen eye solve the biggest, most violent bank robbery in city history. Goodwin goes undercover to befriend the robber's moll, putting her life in danger in the process. Goodwin's story is unforgettable, and her unprecedented career paved the way for generations of crime-fighting women. She's the godmother of the NYPD.
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on August 20, 2011
Elizabeth Mitchell has dug up an amazing true story about a woman who should be famous. Suspenseful, meticulously researched, and full of period flavor, this is a spicy crime tale and vivid piece of New York history with an inspiring heroine at its center. Mrs. Goodwin defied convention to live an astounding life. Read it, you'll love it!
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on August 22, 2011
Crime, corruption, the arcane workings of old New York--they're all here. Mitchell is a splendid writer--as much a sleuth as historian, combing for subtle cultural clues and painting a grim portrait of the city that would keep any jury pinned to their seats. Goodwin herself is a character worthy of film. In fact, if Hollywood isn't scrambling to option this baby, I'd be surprised. Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction and American history will devour this.
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on August 25, 2011
This is for you if: you enjoy crime dramas, historical non-fiction, New York City history, or detective stories.

"The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin" documents the groundbreaking successes of Isabella Goodwin, one of New York City's first Police Matrons, and her work in solving a daring daylight robbery that threatened to undermine all peace and order in New York City. In a time when women are often overlooked or ignored, Isabella Goodwin is able to capitalize on this prejudice to infiltrate the seedy, criminal underworld inaccessible to male detectives. Her undercover work leads to a series of triumphs for the police department, helping disrupt criminal syndicates and earning Mrs. Goodwin fame and celebrity.

Elizabeth Mitchell weaves together a story that chronicles the rise of Isabella Goodwin and her most famous case, "the most startling heist in New York history." Although the story is historically accurate and footnoted, the writing is generally smooth and easy to read. Occasionally, the focus does seem to hop between background and present, but Elizabeth Mitchell uses this to provide perspective and show how Isabella Goodwin's are both a product of and a triumph over her society.
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