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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book
Others have recapped the story quite nicely so I will just give my impressions.

First, given the subject (murder of child prostitutes) the book could be really dark and horrible. But it isn't. The subject is treated gently and with respect. There are no excessive details or inappropriate material. I was very glad about that.

Second, Timothy Wilde...
Published on February 23, 2012 by Half Fast Farmer

versus
49 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ham-fisted use of excellent research
I simply can't fathom what the people who love this book are raving about.

Yes, Faye can turn a phrase and there are moments of stunning writing. For example, when the protagonist is describing his brother, who is high on morphine, Faye writes, "the minutes dripped from his eyes like blood from a corpse". And clearly she has done an immense amount of research...
Published on June 30, 2012 by Christina S. Sampson


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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book, February 23, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
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Others have recapped the story quite nicely so I will just give my impressions.

First, given the subject (murder of child prostitutes) the book could be really dark and horrible. But it isn't. The subject is treated gently and with respect. There are no excessive details or inappropriate material. I was very glad about that.

Second, Timothy Wilde (protagonist) is a really interesting character. His development throughout the book leaves you deeply invested in his success and growth. His relationship with Bird Daly is an excellent measuring stick as you watch him grow out of his brothers shadow and come into his own.

Third, the writing is gorgeous. The language and descriptions are engrossing. The author paints a vivid picture of NYC and the people there.

Fourth, the story is interesting and fast paced. I loved the resolution even though I had figured out one piece already.

As soon as I finished this book, I bought her first book. It's that good.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A civilization is destroyed only when its gods are destroyed." Emile M. Cioran, March 16, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
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Not many novels have probed my feelings and left me raw as that of "The Gods of Gotham."

It's 1845 and we are taken to the poverty stricken Sixth Ward of New York City.

The potato famine in Ireland brings thousands of emigrants to New York. Soon, embers begin to simmer between the Democrats who want the Irish vote and the Whigs who are often people who don't get their hands dirty. They live to see their fortunes grow. They increase tariffs and would like to deport the Irish to Canada.

As evidence of the firey surrounding, a major fire burns down a large part of Manhattan.

Timothy Wilde was a bartender until this fire wiped out the bar where he worked. With few alternatives, he joins the newly formed police department. He's given a copper star and assigned as a patrolman in the Sixth Ward.

There are horrors all around him with people living in squalor. He sees more and more people starve to death each day.

He finds a young girl, not more than ten years-old. She's covered with blood and tells him that there are Irish children who work at a brothel and a man in a black cloak comes there and cuts up children.

The girl admits to following the man and knows where he buried the children. Tim informs his superior and is assigned to finding the graves and the person responsible.

This is a literary novel that details some gruesome scenes but as a historical novel, it seems to paint a more accurate picture of the life at the times.

It would be hard for the reader to find better character development as that seen in Tim, his brother, Valentine and Mercy Underhill. Together, they symbolize what New York was at the start of the novel, and what it was becoming by the end of the story.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously detailed..., February 3, 2012
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Quixote010 (columbus, ohio) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
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Rating: 4.5 stars

Gods of Gotham is Lindsay Faye's second novel and one thing is acutely clear, she thrives on detail.

Take this description for example: "Mott Street near to Five Points just south of Bayard gives a man the impression an infection is running rampant through the road's sewers. And in August the fever worsens, paint peeling and wood cracking like skin in a hospital ward, the hot wet air shivering before your eyes. The pale glassy cast of the windows making the houses look stupefied. The smell of it. Every open casement vomiting chicken guts and trimmed vegetable leaves that are already spoiling, thrown down from kitchen bowls three stories above.

As an actress she obviously needs to understand and absorb her surroundings and she uses this skill to pull readers into her stories. Gods of Gotham deals with the serial murder of numerous children in New York City in the early 1800s. The story, however, is much more complicated than that since it involves the origination of the New York Police Department, adds the politics of the ruling political party and persons of that time, and weaves the animosity between the Irish and nearly everyone else.

Rather than summarize the details of the book, I prefer to present my impressions of the author's efforts. They are: readers of historical fiction will be drawn into the book. Much like "Gangs of New York", this story presents a much different impression of the era and Faye presents numerous images to capture it. The principle characters are most interesting. Disfigured Tim Wilde, his love interest Mercy Underhill and her reverend father, his brother Valentine and the impish "Bird"... these and a host of others are well defined and quite realistic. The case has an interesting twist and frankly, almost takes a secondary role as the author delivers great detail in presenting her cast of characters, their situation and the daily activities around them.

In her previous book, "Dust and Shadow" I thought she captured much of the essence of Sherlock Holmes' London and I think she does the same in this effort. It is not your typical murder mystery principally because Faye adds so much to the coffers in the way of prsenting her characters and life in the 1840s. Be prepared to emcounter the beginnings of New York and the history of it's first responders in this excellent presentation.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bad Luck of the Irish, April 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
"The Gods of Gotham," Lindsay Faye
Four Stars The Bad luck of the Irish

It may be that American colonial diversity engendered the violence that the new nation knew in its first century of existence. Lindsay Faye's new novel, "The Gods of Gotham," if nothing else, is a demonstration of the social and racial hatred and resultant cruelty toward their fellow residents of New York City in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although the protagonists are primarily white protestants, the battles include Negroes, Catholics, clergy men of both denominations and Parlor House Madams of undeclared religious preferences. Primary characters are two brothers, Valentine and Timothy Wilde, their girlfriends, priests, ministers and members of New York's newly created Sixth and Eighth Ward police forces.

In a complicated plot of crime and punishment and some slight justice, "The Gods of Gotham" details the beginnings of the "thin blue line," and the corruption of most city workers. We see also in the linking of these various sharers of the city streets, the enormous tentacles of crime, alleged serial murders as well as life in a city always just a gunshot away from riot if not revolution.

Author Faye shows us these battles between warring factions, the "hands on" practice of bribery and black mail as well as the interaction of church and state and institutions including prostitution with participating children. "The Gods of Gotham" is a story of violence which you will follow from the first to the last page of this can't-put-it-down tale. I believe the major strength of this work is its plot which is intricate and full of dumbfounding surprises at every twist and turn.

Of special interest,too, is the author's scholarship with a then new colloquial dialogue called "Flash." Of course we know of many such temporary dialects born in American sub cultures (e.g., currently the language of "rap" music); the use of "flash" thus helps to authenticate the period and place, i.e., 1845 Manhattan. The author's writerly style, especially in the use of figurative language is refreshing, although the text is somewhat wordy and could use trimming.

Again it is the intriguing plot that saves the day, with clever hooks and real, likeable characters who keep this page-turner engrossing. Another laudable extra of "The Gods of Gotham" is the denouement, as the fate of the protagonists and their conflicts are resolved in sometimes surprising but satisfying ways, but which never sound "deus ex machine" or contrived. This book belongs on your shelf for a good new novel that entertains while extending your knowledge of mid-nineteenth century Manhattan.
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49 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ham-fisted use of excellent research, June 30, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
I simply can't fathom what the people who love this book are raving about.

Yes, Faye can turn a phrase and there are moments of stunning writing. For example, when the protagonist is describing his brother, who is high on morphine, Faye writes, "the minutes dripped from his eyes like blood from a corpse". And clearly she has done an immense amount of research into both the social and political atmosphere of the time.

Unfortunately, neither of these two things in and of themselves make for good storytelling.

The first issue is Faye's clunky, ham-fisted way of enfolding her research into the story. Instead of using information to weave a picture from various threads of historical facts, she takes a mediocre event or plot point and shoves facts all over it, similar to how some wedding dress designers put bows on gowns in odd, almost arbitrary places.

This problem presents itself in two main ways.

The first is Faye's horrible use of flash, a slang dialect used by the poor in New York at the time. Faye would have been well advised had she been told to look to Bruce Alexander's "Murder in Grub Street" for a much-needed lesson on how to fold flash into a story, or dialogue for that matter, to create atmosphere. Instead, Faye bludgeons the reader over the head with terms that, given the rest of the protagonist's tone, come across as jarring. Granted, flash isn't the main character's main way of speaking (so why does he use flash terms in soliloquy?), but even so it's distracting.

And, the characters that should use flash, given their context, don't.

The second example of Faye's heavy hand is the tedious way she describes New York. It's obvious Faye lives in contemporary New York and even more obvious that she loves it. Which for her, as a writer at least, is a problem because it makes reading the book a little like having to sit through watching someone else play a video game.

Travel is told through directions (I went north on this street and south at this street), a pretty boring way to write character travel to begin with. But unless you're familiar with the streets and how they look now, how they looked during the 1800s simply falls flat. Even worse, the map printed on the inside of the front and back covers of the hardcover edition of the book don't show half the streets Faye refers to, so you can't even try to follow the main character's tedious walks that way!

There are some interesting characters, like Matsell, but they are poorly developed. Even the main character, Tim, is wearying. He's a barkeep who notices everything, but is too naïve to notice the girl who runs into him is a "kinchen mab" (two flash terms that would likely not have been used together in that way, by the way). And the murders of children shock him? Really? Even though he worked in an oyster house? Please. The main character is constantly pointing out how he's not green but consistently proving through his reactions that he is.

Tim's alleged love-hate relationship with his brother is poorly developed and terribly written. Tim's resentment is badly--very, very badly--mixed with awe and admiration. Val, the brother, should be a complex character but really isn't. Rather, he's a run-of-the-mill addict we're forced to suffer through. The object of Tim's affection, Mercy, is an equally half-sketched, cumbersome character (we get it; she speaks in riddles and helps the poor; move on already!).

On top of all that, the writing is choppy, lacks flow or pacing and the story isn't interesting enough within the context of the genre to look past it. Readers familiar with English historical mysteries written by Charles Todd, Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Finch, Barbara Cleverly and others will find their bar far too high for Faye's book to even approach it. I suppose if one isn't familiar with the genre, there is some shock value to be had, but even that feels gratuitous.

No, this is a novel publishers were likely hoping would ride on the coattails of the current Sherlock resurgence (don't even get me started on that...) and resulting increase of interest in the Victorian era. I can't wait until the Victorian era isn't trendy anymore so only the cream rises to the top again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Methinks they did not speak thus, August 9, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
An Edgar nominee for debut novel, this murder mystery is set in the 1840s, during the birth of the NYPD. It has fantastic characters and the writer is adept at setting the scene but not nearly as proficient with dialogue. The characters too often talk like stiff-as-a-board History Channel re-enactors.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, May 9, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
This is the second novel by Lydsay Faye....her first being Dust and Shadows. This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of reading her work. The book had great historical detail, and it did overall keep me interested, however, I was able to figure out the ending pretty quick. when reading a novel of this type, you want to be surprised till the very end, with this one, although good, it was not great. I would give Ms Faye another shot, hoping that she is able to keep us on the edge of our seats.....
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exhausting writing style, April 4, 2013
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
I did not like this book. I tried and tried but could not make myself keep reading it. Consider this passage from page 46: "The slabs of charcoal granite weigh on a man the instant he sets eyes upon them, pulling the breath from his chest. All the blank windows stretch two stories high, but are themselves imprisoned by iron frames, each big enough to serve as a fire grate to a giant. Carved in morbid lead-colored rock above each window is a globe wearing a pair of delirious wings and a set of serpents trying to wrestle the planet back into orbit."

This is an unimportant description - not important to the story at all, but an example of the author's exhausting writing style. It's like reading a poem - every paragraph needs deciphering, every other one needs re-reading. I liken it to a child who just got a new camera and is experimenting with the zoom: there is not yet a balance of focus between the too-close and the not-close enough. While this book had a lot of great critical reviews (one called the book "deliciously smooth" which I strongly disagree with), I positively hated the writing style and found it pretentious. There are other great books of historical fiction that don't heap on the overly complicated prose. With a long list of books to read, Gods of Gotham is a waste of my time.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I don't understand the glowing reviews, January 5, 2013
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This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
I am a history buff and am interested in the period in which this novel was set. I was really looking forward to an interesting and fast paced mystery. Instead I found a plodding, disorganized story with an ending that I found completely implausible. Other than presenting a fairly interesting snapshot of New York in the mid 19th century, this book had no redeeming qualities and I had to make myself finish it. What a waste of time and money!
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars INCREDIBLY DISAPPOINTING, April 30, 2012
This review is from: The Gods of Gotham (Hardcover)
This is the most disappointing book that I've read in a very long time. I am absolutely stunned by all of the positive reviews. The book was tedious, poorly plotted and paced, and lacking in any semblance of dramatic tension. And the author makes the mistake that many do after having researched a topic thoroughly. She includes far too much of that research throughout the story, thereby disrupting the flow of the story, and nearly screaming out in doing so, "Look at all of the cool historical research I did."

The first scene encapsulates all of the problems of the book. A girl escapes from a room and runs through the streets wearing a bloody nightgown. This scene should have been gripping. It should have been spellbinding. But it is so cluttered with details about the pedestrians, and the buildings, and the streets themselves (see, cool historical research), that the scene is stripped of any tension. Not only that, but it is very difficult to grasp the essential bits of information from among the rest, and figure out exactly what is happening. The scene is a muddled mess.

After the initial scene, the author spends a long time explaining the backstory of the main character Tim. Again, cool historical details abound, but the story grinds to a halt in the telling. The actual plot of the book doesn't really begin until about a 1/3 of the book has passed. And even then, the plot is poorly paced. I nearly never put down a book without finishing it, but with this book I was continually tempted to do so.

This appears to be one of those books that gets spun up by the industry and by reviewers, convincing many readers that it is an excellent must-read, and like sheep those readers parrot back what they have heard, without ever realizing that the book is a dull piece of nonsensical fluff. Or perhaps some of them realize the truth, but are too timid to tell that truth in the face of others' effusive compliments.

It is possible that a decent story lurks somewhere within the book. But the latter would require extensive cutting and other editing to wrangle it into some sort of decent shape.
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The Gods of Gotham
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (Hardcover - March 15, 2012)
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