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31 Bond Street
by Ellen Horan

PBR Review This book is a wonderful blend of mystery, courtroom drama and historical fiction. Itís based on the true story of Dr. Harvey Burdellís grisly murder in 1857. I enjoyed it immensely from start to finish. Horan takes a very clever approach to unveiling the events leading up to the murder and revealing the outcome of the trial. She narrates the book from two perspectives and at the same time moves back and forth between the past and the present. The format flows beautifully, one time line fills in the history of the relationship between Dr Burdell and Emma, his accused murderer and divulges their character traits and background information. The other discloses the details of the murder, itís aftermath, the roughshod legal process and the trial. Although the author does provide for several likely suspects, the looming question is the guilt or innocence of Emma. The story brings pre-civil war NYC to life, explores the role of women, exposes the flaws of the legal system and presents fascinating historical information on the prevailing corruption, greed, and political power struggles. In short a fabulous story for those who love historical fiction, mysteries, or crime novels and a marvelous debut. I am looking forward to more from this author. FYI, Rumor has it, there is a movie in the works.Back.
Talking Points: The setting for this book is Manhattan in 1857. There's lots of detail about everyday life and also the legal system of this era. The book highlights the difficulties of being a widow and the limited choices available for women as well as some very interesting social and courting customs. There are threads covering the political corruption present and the slave trade. One particularly interesting point highlighted was the prominent role newspapers played in the legal process. Recommended for book clubs that enjoy mysteries, suspense novels,or historical fiction.
PBR Reader Comments:
I am a fan of crime novels and historical fiction and this book was very satisfying on both accounts. Great pacing and increasing intrigue and suspense as the author revealed each new layer of the relationship between the two main characters. Excellent read.
by-Sue 2010/09/01, 06:27 PM

I liked both the character development and their inter actions. The events and dialog were very believable. I also enjoyed the historical information about pre civil war NYC woven into the story and the skillful manner the author maintained tension and suspense. Itís a good read.
by-Barbara 2010/08/31, 06:37 PM

A book for the mystery or historical fiction enthusiast. Itís tightly woven with a high level of intrigue, nothing is as it first appears. I found it engaging and fast paced and loved the details about New York in 1857.
by-Debbie M 2010/08/23, 01:49 PM

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