Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review: 'In the Shadow of Gotham' by Stefanie Pintoff

"Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know," -- Jeremiah 7:8-9 (NKJV)

Detective Simon Zeale is still recovering from a harrowing personal tragedy in the normally quiet suburb of Dobson, New York, when a gruesome murder intrudes. It's just the sort of death that he had hoped to leave behind in New York City. The investigation soon takes a bizarre turn when Columbia University criminologist, Alistair Sinclair, arrives to claim that one of his subjects, Michael Fromley, must have done the crime. That claim draws Simon into Gotham's web to find out about the lies, deceptions, and wrong motives that have led to a beautiful young woman's untimely demise.

In the Shadow of Gotham will appeal to those who love historical mysteries and unusual characters. Alistair Sinclair is one of the more original detective story characters that I can remember reading about in many years. Ms. Pintoff displays a vivid imagination, a willingness to do her homework, and a discipline for rewriting that make this an impressive first novel. I look forward to her future work.

The book's main weakness is that that mystery is a little too easy to solve. I hope her future efforts will balance creating a fast-paced plot better with a more satisfying level of difficulty for armchair detectives.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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