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Seven for a Secret picks up six months after Gods of Gotham, continuing the story of young Timothy Wilde, the sole detective of the "copper stars," the newly-formed New York City Police. Many of the social concerns and gritty realities of New York City first addressed in Gods of Gotham get deeper exploration here, including the graft and corruption behind Tammany Hall, the ethnic tensions surrounding the Irish question, the helplessness of children in a city run by and for adults, and the tenuous nature of the fledgling police force, threatened from without and within by politics and petty hatreds.
At the heart of this novel is the omnipresent threat of "blackbirders," who specialized in kidnapping blacks, whether free citizens or runaway slaves, and sending them to a life of enslavement in the South. When a young biracial woman rushes into Wilde's office and explains that her family has been stolen, the search and the mystery begins.
Just as The Gods of Gotham turned the spotlight on the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudices of the time, Seven for a Secret considers the constant threat that the institution of slavery posed to black Americans, including those in so-called "free" states, and the bigotry built into the U.S. and New York systems. Lyndsay Faye opens every chapter with a poignant and telling quotation from the period that drives her message home.
The recurring characters such as Wilde's "party boss" brother Valentine, landlady Mrs. Boehm, and friend Julius get further development ("Gentle Jim" nearly stole the show), and the new characters are deeply compelling. New York City itself remains the central figure in the story, and Faye's well-researched and piercing gaze lays it open for the reader.
Steven Boyer's able narration lets the prose shine through.
I'm giving this four stars rather than five, because Timothy Wilde's character rang less true for me in this book than in the first. He seems to have forgotten much of his street savvy, and he repeatedly comes across as far too naive for a man who grew up with only a brother for a parent and then tended bar for years. His confusion and bewilderment serves the reader well -- surely this isn't how things are done? oh, so it is -- but it seems odd in the man who was so capable (if in over his head) in the first novel and so at home in his city.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy this novel, because I did, quite thoroughly. I'll be waiting for the next book in this series with anticipation.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
It's 1846 in New York, and the second year of the NYPD. Last year, in book one, "Copper Star" Timothy Wilde, solved murders in a book that gave much of the history of the Irish immigrants and the conflicts between the Catholics and the Protestants. It's a good idea to read that book first ( THE GODS Of GATHAM) because many characters are carried through into this book. This book continues with murders associated with run away slaves and free blacks in the north. Once again, chapters are headed by quotes about this topic from authors of those times.
Timothy's spunk, bravery, and creative determination to do what is right by law and by moral justice, gets him into trouble with everyone, including his brother Val, who is big in the Democratic Party and continues to be a scoundrel in every sense of the word. The mistress of the brothel from the first book plays a big role in the atrocities of this book. And there are a couple of children who will tug at you heart with their lives and courage.
This historical mystery is very well documented and extremely well written. The story kept me involved with many twists and turns that I was drawn into as Timothy figured out his fast paced world. I listed to this on Audible and found the narration added much to the feeling and emotions evoked in this story.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful