From Publishers Weekly
Rose (New York Sawed in Half
) takes on one of the most celebrated unsolved murders in New York City history—the 1841 killing of Mary Rogers—in this historical whodunit, but doesn't make the most of its potential. Rogers, an attractive young woman, achieved local notoriety as a sales clerk at a Manhattan tobacco shop whose clientele included such notable authors as James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. After the discovery of the victim's mutilated body, Jacob Hays, the city's high constable, who makes a somewhat plodding and colorless detective, quickly narrows his scrutiny to Poe, whose second Dupin story was based on the case. While the author provides a convincing portrait of the New York literary world of the day, crime fans may be disappointed that the mystery's solution comes out of left field with no evidence to support it. This novel should get a lift from Daniel Stashower's recent factual study of the Rogers murder, The Beautiful Cigar Girl
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Sixty-nine-year-old High Constable Jacob Hays is facing a long, hot summer in 1841. The soaring temperatures are nothing compared to the heat being generated by the sensation-seeking newspapers and the vicious gangs that rule the New York neighborhoods known as the Five Points. When Mary Rogers, a pretty clerk at a tobacco shop, is found brutally murdered in the Hudson River, Hays is charged with the search for her killer. A long-respected lawman known for creating a new interrogation technique called the third degree, Hays is starting to feel the full weight of his position, caught between public outrage and political red tape. High on his list of suspects is the eccentric poet Edgar Allan Poe, who freely admits that he was in love with the "cigar girl." Rose (New York Sawed in Half
, 2001) creates a compelling portrait of nineteenth-century New York as well as fascinating, deeply flawed characters. At the center of his novel is the dissolute Poe, dressed in a tattered coat, heavily addicted to opium, and convinced of his own genius. Part history, part mystery, and thoroughly entertaining. Joanne WilkinsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved