The murder of Judge Hugo Jackson is out of Detective Simon Ziele’s jurisdiction in more ways than one. For one, it’s high-profile enough to command the attention of the notorious new police commissioner, since Judge Jackson was presiding over the sensational trial of Al Drayson. Drayson, an anarchist, set off a bomb at a Carnegie family wedding, but instead of killing millionaires, it killed passersbys, including a child. The dramatic trial captured the full attention of 1906 New York City.
Furthermore, Simon’s assigned precinct on Manhattan’s West Side includes the gritty Tenderloin but not the tonier Gramercy Park, which is where the judge is found in his locked town house with his throat slashed on the night before the jury is set to deliberate. But his widow insists on calling her husband’s old classmate criminologist, Alistair Sinclair, who in turn enlists Ziele’s help. Together they must steer Sinclair’s unorthodox methods past a police force that is so focused on rounding up Drayson’s supporters that they’ve all but rejected any other possibilities.
Stefanie Pintoff’s combination of characters and a fascinating case set amongst the sometimes brutal, sometimes glittering history of turn-of-the-century New York makes for compelling reading.
Pintofff, who won an Edgar Award Winner for her first novel, is a long-time New Yorker whose first two novels, In the Shadow of Gotham (April 2009), A Curtain Falls (May 2010) also cover early New York circa 1904-1906.
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