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I must shrug on a mourning dress and pin on a brooch to commemorate Timothy Wilde, whose demise I grieve.

The third book of the Timothy Wilde mysteries has drawn its last extraordinary breath, having shared the stories of the New York City coppers starring Tim and Val Wilde, with Mercy Underhill, Elene Boehm, Silkie Marsh and Bird Daly.

In the first novel, The Gods of Gotham, the fledgling police force, powered by George Washington Matsell the police magistrate, served as night patrols throughout the city and waterfront. The police chief was a real New York presence. In 1859 Matsell published Vocabulum, or, The rogue’s lexicon: compiled from the most authentic sources. In various scenes throughout the trilogy he made notes of the “flash” language of the streets that Tim, Val and other characters spoke throughout the books. (Each novel has a handy glossary of flash terms).

Tim, he and his older brother being orphans due to a barn fire, was a talented bartender who had scrapped together savings with his sights on a future with lovely Mercy Underhill. Ironically the gigantic fire of 1845 changed his wealth, face and profession. His brother Val, a brilliant but well-rounded addict to anything, snagged Tim a job as a new policeman for the Five Point area, Ward 6, of New York, pretty much the armpit of the 1840s city. Child prostitutes, disease, starving Irish immigrants/rats, and ever-present corruption were punctuated with a new horror, the butchering of child-mabs.

Seven for the Secret, the second novel of the trilogy, peeked under the vermin-infested and opportunistic rocks of New York of the 1840s, this time exposing a hugely successful slave “recovery” scam carried out by blackbirders who captured free blacks and ship them off to a period, or lifetime, of slavery. As he and his partner sloshed through the crime, Timothy Wilde tenaciously puzzled through the murder of a beautiful black woman. The slavery ring proved lethally entangling and the murder exasperating to solve. Tim’s powers of deduction were noticed in the department. His experience sharpened him without hardening him, quite a delicate character development maneuver by Lindsay. Even though he did not know how to title this copper job, Tim was excellent at “deciphering unsolved mayhem”.

With the May 2015 release of The Fatal Flame Tim and his colorful partner, Jakob Piest, are on the trail of Ronan McGlynn who is turning an amazing profit sweet-talking lovely Irish maidens right off the ships into “manufacturing” jobs that are hellish introductions into prostitution. His description of their natural affinity for the profession leaves even readers feeling sullied. McGlynn was not the brain behind the operations. Tim wanted the mastermind.

Faye’s power of description is superlative. For instance I would recognize Piest anywhere. Lynday’s description of him as “honest as the frayed cuffs on his frock coat” and “resembles your friendlier breed of barnacle and talks like a knight-errant” set the stage for entertaining images each time he appeared. Add to that his physical description: “Mr. Piest’s bulging blue eyes and absent chin admittedly resemble a carp’s.” Throw in his heroism and the reader has another well-inked character to love. It makes a reader want to luxuriate in Lyndsay’s prose, rereading full pages and even chapters for the soothing salve of delicate word choice.

I found that flash had an allure or its own. The brothers, mabs, and new hawks use the language as it was intended, to conceal: “She was his peculiar…though she savvies now he was naught but a rabbit-sucker.“ Flash wording staccato in a dissonant rhythm. “…”I’m as prime on the muscle as any professional milling cove.”

New York City 1848 was the site of horrid employment conditions for women seamstresses. The lucky ones were employed in legitimate shops. Nonetheless the conditions and wages were unregulated and minimal. Malcontent male tailors’ livelihoods were threatened by their competition. Even worse was “outsourcing” to huddles of women who sewed in extreme conditions with little light, little food with desperate lives with emotional and mental instability. Lives of many of these women interweaved into the narration, with particular emphasis on an educated and spirited young woman who was willing to strike, Sally Woods. Seen as a spurned woman and an unsuccessful trouble causer, she was the first suspect when the fires at Alderman Robert Symmes’s properties started.

In a previous novel the alderman had offered to “take care” of Tim as he was tied to a chair in Tammany Hall. Now Symmes tried to bribe Val Wilde with his newest group of virginal Irish prostitutes, right off the boat. Val may have had his vices, but he was cavalier and full of integrity. Furious, Val determined to run against the alderman in the upcoming election.

Shrouded in mystery, Tim Wilde’s unrequited love, Mercy Underhill, returned from England and boarded with actors who hovered about her, sensing her fragility. When the first fire began on Pell Street at a Symmes establishment “saturated with tenants” Tim found traumatized Dunla Duffy watching the conflagration. Since Mercy adored helping the less fortunate, Tim asked her to care for Dunla. A symbiotic choice, as Mercy was a brilliant and charitable heroine, riddled with her own demons, not unlike her father in Gods of Gotham.

Fires at Symmes’ properties continued. Tim’s investigations lead him to questioning Sally Woods, whose intelligence and glibness memorized him. With all the evidence pointing toward her, she was eventually jailed at the Tomb. Seemingly unrelated events and people continued to bounce around Tim’s head and escaped into his doodles. He sketched a memorable personality into a warp and woof of the crime’s resolution.

I found myself searching the Internet for Tammany Hall, The Fifty-first Street Catholic orphanage, copper stars, the great fires of New York City, blackbirding, Five Points and its Old Brewery. Hats off to Lyndsay for piquing interest in New York City history. A doff for her thorough research into the Copper Stars first years. A curtsey for the authentic voices. Brava to the finely executed characterizations of Tim, Val, Jim, Mercy, Dunly, Mrs. Grimshaw, Symmes, Piest, Elene, Sally and all.

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

Author Lyndsay Faye

May the “gentle chain saws” of editing ever be in Ms Faye’s favor. Her fans, current and to come, will twitch for her new ventures. Is there a hope of resurrection or reincarnation of Detective Timothy Wilde? Perhaps not, but I can luxuriate in the re-reading. And readers, please read prologues and epilogues, just sayin’.

Joan Enders has reviewed new books for 29 years, was the recent librarian of Robert A. Long High School, and now is a trainer for Follett School Solutions and director of the Family History Center in Longview.

[For reading to augment your reading Faye’s trilogy, readers might consider the nonfiction title CITY OF WOMEN Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 by Christine Stansell].

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The Graveyard Book, Volume 2

Posted: January 13, 2015 in General Fiction

Craig adapts one of my favorite Neil Gaiman stories, The Graveyard Book, into a spectacularly tense and visual graphic novel that will not disappoint Gaiman fans. This is the second half of the hysterical and haunting story in which Bod has toddled from his home to the local decrepit graveyard unknowingly escaping being murdered with his entire family. The colorful ghosts take it upon themselves to raise Bod. As volume two begins Bod is accosted by Thackery Porringer, 1720-1734, who is incensed that Bod borrowed his only earthly possession, a copy of Robinson Crusoe. Bod’s vampire guardian finally tells him about the murder of his parents eleven years prior, in the hopes that Bod will understand the danger that he is in. But of course, that would be too compliant and Bod’s actions place him and his girl friend from the past in danger. If I were in a middle or high school library I would certainly buy both volumes. I appreciate the high quality glossy illustrations.

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By raise of hand: Where is Angel Island and for what is it known? I did not know either. It was the site of the San Francisco Bay immigration station for most Asian immigrants who were detained, interrogated and scrutinized for extremely lengthy periods of time. In 1970 the buildings of the station were slated for demolition, but the new park ranger, Alexander Weiss, noticed engravings over the interiors of the barracks that were dismissed as graffiti. They were reflections and poems written by the detainees! He told a former professor about them, and suddenly activists in the Asian American community visited, touched and successfully campaigned to save the structures. The former professor was George Araki. His mother had come through the island herself as a Japanese immigrant. I have always admired Freedman’s exposure of history that needs to be known, and this is another welcomed addition to his arsenal of shared knowledge.

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Hiaassen fans, enjoy this new romp through Florida with Malley, who runs away with a disreputable older DJ to avoid being shipped off to boarding school.  Yep, rational thinking pill needed!  Her cousin Richard knows that running off with a guy she met on the Internet spells trouble and gallops off to rescue her. He is aided with a vagrant, Skink, whose apparent claim to fame is burying himself as a decoy turtle nest to capture turtle egg poachers.  (You can tell his nest hill.  It is the one with the breathing straw).  Richard made the acquaintance with Skink inadvertently pulling out the straw. Skink, incidentally, is a former governor of Florida and has amazingly straight and white teeth for a tramp.  Before Richard knows it, Skink has joined and commandeered the rescue effort, and elevating the quest to hysterical proportions. Another laugh out loud reading encounter with a zany Hiaasen character while presenting the serious contemporary issue of internet stalking and runaways.skink

hiaasonCarl’s Website

Scoot over Lois Duncan and share your “on the end of the seat” suspense chair with Jennifer Wolf.

Jaycee’s estranged friend, Rachel, has been murdered in a drive-by killing.  Her once lovely little home is trashed by the police investigation, her mother’s sorrow and the horrid blood stains in Rachel’s bedroom.  Jaycee is tormented by not having answered Rachel’s texts the night of the shooting. Added to that, the memory of  Rachel and she going to meet someone at the local vacant, vandalized house still haunted Jaycee.  What Rachel saw that night frightened her enough that she ran, through broken glass in her bare feet, all the way home. After that, Rachel chose a dangerous, seductive path that Jaycee just could not understand and their friendship was severed.  Now Jaycee is determined to find the murderer. Hovering around her are sweet Skylar who obviously loves her, and his smooth brother Evan, who would love to have her.  Jaycee’s lawyer father insists that she stay away from both young men.  But she cannot, as they appear to float around the solution to the murder.  In tense and terse building action, Wolf creates a nail-biting situation that will suck you in.  How much is Jaycee willing to risk to solve this murder that everyone else says is just a freak coincidence?  Is there really a rabid, powerful gang in town?  Rachel trusted only one person.  Can Jaycee trust him, or is he the key to all the danger?

Check it out.  Buy it.  Read it. And “always do the right thing.”dead girls

jennifer wolfJenn’s Website

The coach is dead.

Millie already has listed a plethora of suspects who detest the football coach for a plethora of reasons. Unfortunately, one of the suspects is her dad, the assistant coach who argued continuously with Hollerin’ Hank.  Another is the former quarterback, beefy Mike, who was replaced by a mysterious Adonis, Chase, who seems to have, well had, the coach in his pocket. Suspect three is Viv, the nasty cheerleader who faced humiliation on Facebook due to the viral video of an incident caused by the coach at a home game. And the list goes on.

Millie is determined to clear her father and gumshoe to find the true murderer. Inspired by the sleuthing of Nancy Drew, she fearlessly pursues her investigations. As Millie and Chase’s relationship blossoms, only to ebb, she forges into danger to save her nemesis and expose the murderer. Like other Beth’s books the reader is hardily entertained by well-drawn and unique characters. I always look forward to being entertained by Beth’s creations, and young adults wanting to read a novel that is an engaging murder mystery will love it also.buzz kill

fantaskeyBeth’s Website

The jacket blurb says it all: “the soul’s ability to connect outside the bounds of reason.”

subway loveIn the mind and time-bending novel about love, Laura boards a subway in the 1970s and ends up in a parallel New York City years in the heyday of the graffiti bedlam when authorities scrubbed away subway car art almost as fast as it was painted. She meets Jonas and an instant connection snaps between them. What I appreciate is that Baskin never editorializes on the bizarre connection through time and space. It just is. Laura endures a bizarre hippy mother, her abusing boyfriend, a mean brother and a distant father. The connection with Jonas is really the only positive connection in her life. He convinces her to confide all her hurts to her father. Their effervescent love story continues while their tagger friend, Zan, an artist of the subways, is planning the most expansive tag of the city: decorating an entire train with his art in one night. Laura and Jonas and Zan all seem to understand the almost reverent experiences they are enveloped in.  Read it!  Romance readers will adore it. Quirky story readers will love it.

(Having just attended a seminar on tagging, I now wonder if Zan contracted cancer later on. The toxic cleanser used by the city killed many of the taggers of the 80s).

Nora’s Website  baskin

Iris impulsively trusted complete strangers at the end of Iris Brave and was sneaked into the safe house of The Sixteen, sixteen soul jumpers who rebelled against the tyranny of the powerful soul jumper Council.  A plan is devised to deliver her to The Council, have her jailed in “the tunnel”, and to help Jared spring her dad from the prison.  The plot becomes dark quickly, to the point that Iris and her father are tortured.  Why Iris?  It seems that she has the soul jumper genes also.  In a daring escape, things do not go well.  Iris and Lewis, a man with a six-year-old mind, end up in the middle of a horrible freeway accident.  Her life is forever changed.  I was shocked at the intensity of the tension and severity of the brutality.  I was happily surprised by the twists and turns in the plot and the pace of the narrative.  My guesses as to what was next could not keep up with the inventiveness of Ali.  Awesome second novel in the series.  I am looking forward to the third.  I also recommend the book for upward to tenth grade level.  The only reservtion is that Iris is only eleven years old.  It is unfortunate that some teen readers will reject reading it due to the age of the protagonist.

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      the sixteen

Free from Ali B. !

Posted: October 24, 2014 in General Fiction

Today only, October 24, 2014, Ali B. and Amazon are giving away a free Kindle ebook of the 2nd “Soul Jumpers” series, The Sixteen.

Hurry and download yours!