Tuesday, March 15, 2011

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan


Part Of The Synopsis From Back Cover:

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell in his opulent Manhattan town house?

Though there are no clues to the brutal slaying of wealthy Dr. Burdell, suspicion quickly falls on Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed his house and servants. An ambitious district attorney seeks a swift conviction, but defense attorney Henry Clinton is a formidable obstacle—a man firmly committed to justice and the law, and to the cause of a frightened, vulnerable woman desperately trying to save herself from the gallows.

I'm always a little leery, but can never resist, an actual unsolved murder case and the story an author is willing to create around it.  Sadly, a lot of authors who take an actual case out of history and try to recreate it, fail miserably.  They can't seem to get a good sense of character or the time period the slaying took place in.  The tale they craft, while maybe good fiction, doesn't have the ring of truth about it.  The solution they created just isn't believable.  Thankfully, that was not the case with 31 Bond Street.

The tale that Ellen Horan weaves around the murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell is not only believable but entertaining as well.  She brought the streets of 1857 New York to life in ways that may get me to love historical fiction after all.  New York is treated as an important character, one that brings the color and texture to the story in ways that allows an almost tactile experience.  As the characters encounter different parts of the city and surrounding land, that setting supports everything they do.

She obviously did her research and the story was richer for it.  She managed to blend both historical and fictional characters and events into a cohesive narrative that felt like the truth.  It felt as if she had found Emma Cunningham's journal, Henry Clinton's private memoir, and had  H. G. Wells' time machine at her disposal.  The characters are so real that it almost feels like they will come off the page at any second and explain what it is they are doing and why things happened the way they did.  It was a brilliantly done look into the minds of people that have been dead for years.

If you couldn't tell that I loved this book, then I didn't use enough flattering language.  Maybe I should go back and put in a few more just for the fun of it.  The book is certainly deserving of it.  I'll be looking forward to anything else this author chooses to put out there for the public to consume.  At this point I would be willing to read an informational pamphlet about the mating rituals of peacocks, if this author was the one who wrote it.

I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this book.  Please visit the tour page for more opinions and for information about the author.

Challenges: M&S, FF

9 comments:

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

This sounds like one I would really like. I like books set in New York during this time period. The Alienist by Caleb Carr is one that comes to mind and is one of my favorites. Great review!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like it would be worth reading just to learn more about New York in the past. Great review, Ryan!

Bev Hankins said...

This does sound really interesting. The only kind of true crime (true crime made into fiction) stories I like are those where the participants are long gone. I can't do modern true crime....

Great review!

heathertlc said...

The summary of this book reminded me of THUNDERSTRUCK by Erik Larson, but your review makes me think this would be a MUCH better book. The fact that the murder was never really solved does but me, but I still think I'd really enjoy this one.

Thanks for being on the tour Ryan!

Audra said...

You cracked me up with "If you couldn't tell that I loved this book, then I didn't use enough flattering language." because I know that feeling -- I for sure caught your enthusiasm for this book -- I'm really so very excited to read it!

StephanieD said...

Oh, I'm so excited now! I bought this book months ago but I have yet to read it. Now I'm looking forward more than ever.

Yvette said...

Sounds good, Ryan. Great review. I, too, love mysteries set in this time period. THE ALIENIST is also one of my favorite books. Have you read IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM? Another good one set during this time period.

Staci said...

Pretty awesome review and you've made me want to read this one!!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I would totally love this book. Great review Ryan. The mid 1800s in New York is one of my favorite time periods to read about.