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New Amsterdam Hardcover – May 25, 2007

24 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the New Amsterdam Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a New Amsterdam that's still a royal colony at the turn of the 20th century, this engaging dark fantasy collection from John W. Campbell Award–winner Bear (Carnival) introduces a tough, witty female sleuth. Abigail Irene Garrett is the perfect Victorian hard-boiled detective, with the added benefit of necromantic skills that make her a formidable forensic investigator in a world where sorcery is common. Teaming occasionally with vampire sleuth Sebastien de Ulloa, Irene cuts a figure of crime-fighting confidence through five of the six stories, grappling with demonic killers summoned for personal revenge or political intrigue, and plunging into wildly unpredictable adventures such as those recounted in "Lumière," a stunning blend of steampunk and eldritch horror. Bear's tales are not only ingeniously mysterious but also richly textured with details that bring the society and history of her alternate America to vivid life. Readers who like the grit of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake novels and the historical heft of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's vampire tales will find similar pleasures here. (May)
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From Booklist

The zeppelin bound for New Amsterdam in British North America leaves France in 1899, carrying the typically far-ranging group of passengers, including a famous American film actress, a Hungarian aristocrat, a writer from Boston, an attractive young couple seeking political advancement in the Pennsylvania colony, and young Jack, traveling companion of Sebastien, a well-known detective. Less well known is Sebastien's vampiric need for blood. Then, help! Is there a detective in the house? The blood thickens when Madame Pontchartrain, the group's eldest member, disappears, never having slept in her bed. The joy here arises from watching the story's twists and turns unfold, accompanied by speculation about who else on board may be "of the blood" and by Pontchartrain's penchant for opium. Once in the New World, Sebastien adds to his blood sources sorcerer Abigail Irene Garrett, who's actually an officer serving the Crown's Duke Richard; and the plot complexities multiply, as do the cast members, giving new resonance to the term characters in this fast-moving supernatural alternative history yarn that's just bloody well good. Scott, Whitney

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press; 1st edition (May 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596061065
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061064
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Lilith Saintcrow on June 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sebastian de Ulloa is a vampire. He's lived for somewhere over a thousand years. He's left Europe, weary of the games the "blood" play to relieve the boredom of eternity. And oh yeah--Sebastian is an independent consultant when it comes to catching murderers. And he's very good at it.

Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a forensic sorceress working for the Crown. She's utterly loyal to the King, and like all loyal principled people, is due for a shock when that loyalty is misused by the King's lieutenants. She lives in a world where magic is real and Britain never gave New Amsterdam back. Ever.

Plus, there's dirigibles. *drools with love*

Seriously, I loved this book. Each mystery is a novella in and of itself, which might be confusing to the average reader since the players are reintroduced each time. The midstream changes in point-of-view might also confuse an average reader, but they are handled very well and clearly. Bear handles the question of a very old vampire's psychology very well, by making Sebastian polyamorous by necessity and detached-as-possible by default. He's a necessary foil for the bluestocking Garrett, who manages to avoid social leprosy by being rich and very good at her job, not to mention uncaring about scandal. She's saved from Mary Sueness by having very definite vulnerabilities and a softer side.

The mysteries are well-plotted and create plenty of urgency. They're also devilishly clever, and it's obvious Bear has done her homework on magickal theory and folklore (she even mentions the beast of Gevaudan,) as well as forensic anthropology. And the writing is very good, very smooth, and very well done. I wanted to go back to the book each time I was pulled away to attend to that little thing called "life.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brenopa on August 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
What if the Americans lost the Revolutionary War? Think of the politics of a Victorian America, still ruled by the British crown. Then add necromancers, vampire courts and a feisty female dectective--a woman of a certain age.

Well, actually, MY age! Crown Detective Abigail Irene is around the mid-century mark, and trust me, she is NOT on a quest to find herself, or discover her lost heritage. Thank goodness. Abigail Irene is a mature and self-confident woman whom men find very attractive. She attracts the the attention of an ancient vampire...don't roll your eyes! Wait--this vampire is much better written than most. There is a charming self-awareness about all the vampire stereotypes that makes the mysterious, "Spanish" vampire a lot more charming than most. And, more interesting.

This book is presented as a series of interlocked short stories. The stories build in drama and tension.The relationships between the primary characters develops to a very moving crescendo, as they work togother to solve crimes in a very different "New Amsterdam". HIghly recommended!
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Skinner on June 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I started New Amsterdam because I live in New York, and because I was hoping to see some of those Iroquois war mages who kept the British back. I thought that would be interesting. The war mages don't appear in the book, but it's very good nevertheless. The vampire is passing as a European nobleman, an upper class amateur detective, kind of like Poirot. The forensic sorceress is a possibly alcoholic hard-boiled civil servant, who doesn't like some amateur messing with her case, and possibly implying she's not good enough. The vampire, of course, is fannishly eager to get involved in another mystery, as they're one reason he keeps alive (or undead). It was neat to see the two kinds of detectives juxtaposed. But they end up friends & associates anyway by the end of the 2nd novella. The book is made up of novellas about the same people; they start out semi-linked, and get more and more linked as they go on. There is actually an original (and scary) monster in one of the novellas, which was neat. It took me about half the first novella to get into the book, but I ended up loving it, and wanting more about the characters. The character interactions are a strength, and the writing is very good. There's also a nice orange cat named El Capitan, and very cool ghost wolves.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hapa Girl on December 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear is the first in a series of 4 books of short stories and novellas. Although it incorporates many of the subjects I enjoy reading about (i.e. a female detective, the Victorian era, a mystery to be solved, vampires and magic), I didn't find this collection of six short, connected tales totally satisfying.

On the plus side, this author has a great eye for detail and gets full marks for creative world building. Her alternate reality America, still ruled by the British is intriguing.

I liked that our female protagonist, Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett, is a mature woman who is capable at work, enjoys more than a few drinks, loves her dog, and enjoys her sexual liaisons.

The paranormal aspects of the book were handled adequately, but weren't remarkable to me.

What I didn't enjoy was the sterile writing style, but I can see why other readers might call it stylish. i found it stark, almost noir-ish and it didn't hook me emotionally. The writing was so controlled that the narrative sometimes became confusing and hard for me to follow.

In the final analysis, it was the writing itself that I just didn't find appealing. Not sure that I'll try another in the series.
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