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New Amsterdam (New Amsterdam #1)

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,224 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable and notorious! She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He has forgotten his birth-name, h ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 31st 2010 by Subterranean Press (first published May 25th 2007)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud! Note that the edition reviewed is out of print. The eBook for all platforms is $2.99.
I really wanted to like this. I *still* want to like it. In fact, I suspect it's actually a two-star book for me and I gave it an extra one because it's just depressing to give such an awesome concept two stars. But the fact is: I found reading this book either mildly entertaining or straight-up disengaging. Damn it.

Part of the problem is that I didn't know what I was getting into. The summaries I'd read made it sound like a sort of steampunk-and-magic-and-vampires detection duo. And that is not
Sebastien de Ulloa is a vampire with a millennium and change to his name, a habit of caring about his food, and the desire to build a new life across the Atlantic in the colonies. Detective Crown Inspector Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a forensic sorceress who has exiled herself from London for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture. Together, they solve crime.

Oh, now, this? This I like.

Clever, tense, satisfying mosaic novel. It feels like the best of Bear’s writing: prose like perf
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Set between 1899 and 1903 in a world where the sun never set on the British Empire, where America is still deeply British on those small territories secured from the natives and with the French breathing down their neck across a tenuous border, New Amsterdam presents the great amateur detective, Don Sebastien de Ulloa. Travelling from Europe to the colonies across the Pacific by dirigible with his trusted young friend Jack, Sebastien is one of the oldest wampyrs living. While wampyrs are welcome ...more
He's a millennium-old vampire traveling to the New World to avoid vampire politics.
She's a detective-mage with a sense of duty that could crack iron.
Together... they fight crime!

Seriously, New Amsterdam is set in sort of a steampunk/magic/alt-history where the Hadenosaunee(Iriquois) and other native tribes kept the British and French from doing much in the US interior, the Dutch didn't cede their New York territory to Britain until the Napoleonic era, and the US never won independence. Lady Ab
This is one of those rather peculiar books that I feel I ought to adore, and actually only mildly like--distressingly much of Elizabeth Bear is like that for me, where it just never quite makes the jump into deep passion. Abigail Irene is a fabulous character, and Sebastian and Jack are at least unconventional, and the world-building is comprehensive and well done, and I just never quite manage to break through into love for the book. I like it well enough to have read it, and re-read it in prep ...more
Jason Lang
A series of short stories about a steampunk-magic world Vampire who happens to be a private detective. Okay, so that sounds like an awful premise. But the book itself is quite entertaining, both for the random historical characters who sneak in, the well-thought out alternate history, the pains the vampire takes to hide his 'condition', the hints at background events (a war with France, Civil rights movements) and so on. It's surprisingly cerebrial, but in a candy-coated shell so you don't notic ...more
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

New Amsterdam is billed as “the hardcover debut” from Elizabeth Bear, who had been winning awards for her short stories and novels before this work was published in 2007. Though not exactly described as such, New Amsterdam is a compilation of six short stories, each connected to and increasingly dependent upon the others as the overarching plot progresses. While each story is ostensibly a mystery which requires investigation and the use of forensic sorcery in order to
Bell Curran
What a pity that this is out of print. It's a very erudite version of steampunk. On one level, it is a series of chapters* that span the time period from 1899 to 1903. Each of the chapters stand alone, and perhaps in a previous life, they were short stories. Each chapter is its own self-contained mystery which is solved by 1,100-year old vampire and detective, Sebastien de Ulloa, and 50-ish former bombshell, Lady Abigail Irene Garrett, who is not only notorious for her liaisons with powerful, ma ...more
May 24, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery, fantasy enthusiasts
Shelves: favorites
This book was fantastic! Although I'm not sure why the inside jacket spends more time talking about Detective Crown Investigator Abigail Irene Garrett more than Sebastien de Ulloa, who really is the thread that ties all the stories in this book together.

The premise of a forensic sorcerer meeting up with a wampyr detective is quite original. Especially when most of the stories take place in New Amsterdam at the turn of the 20th century. This New Amsterdam (aka NYC) is still a colony of Britain, a
Dena Landon
New Amsterdam is a collection of short stories about Detective Crown Inspector Abigail Irene Garrett, a forensic sorceress, and Sebastien de Ulloa, a renowned amateur sleuth who also happens to be a vampire. The stories take place in an alternate history colonies, where tensions exist between the Empire, the French, and the Iroquois

The first story in the collection owes much to the tradition of English country house mysteries, only the suspects are all trapped in a dirigble instead. The writing
Danii Goldstein
Jul 04, 2008 Danii Goldstein rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is probably one of the first books in a long time to make me squeak out loud, cheer out loud, and genuinely cry for the characters.

The book is made of short stories and novellas detailing the adventures of DCI Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien De Ulloa, a vampiric detective closer to Sherlock Holmes than Nick Knight.

I honestly adored this book and as I'm typing here, I wish that I could give it a fair review or even discuss the book in any way, but I can't. While I can clinically d
Elizabeth Bear is a prodigious fantasy author, and while this is my first read by her, it's by no means the last. She is exquisite, meticulous with her world-building and full of convoluted ideas and characters which is exactly what I love in my authors.

New Amsterdam is a great steampunk mystery blending the paranormal into murdery investigations of all sorts with a fantastic skill. Don't be fooled by the synopsis into thinking that there is this great romance between Sebastien and Abigail Irene
Aug 01, 2010 Autumnmoon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of mystery, fantasy, steampunk, Victoriana
It's obvious that Elizabeth Bear owes a huge debt to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--the moody quasi-Victorian setting, the traditional mystery plot structure, even her decision to write this book as linked novellas/short stories are all reminiscent of the Sherlock Holmes series. What separates New Amsterdam from its predecessors is its style. Bear effectively blends the traditional detective-driven mystery with elements of the police procedural, alternate history, fantasy, noir, steampunk, and the vamp ...more
I read another review that said it was a great book, except the last two chapters are difficult to get into. I completely agree. The writing is concise and descriptive; I'm envious of her ability with words. But once I got to the last 50 odd pages, I just could't seem to keep myself reading. So, when faced with the dilemma of returning the book to the library or keeping it long enough to finish (despite the fees), I returned it. I did skim the pages, but I didn't quite finish it all.

I give it 4
chris tierney
A series of connected short stories and novellas (novelettes? I didn't do a word count). Each is a mystery featuring one or both of forensic sorceress Abigail Irene Garrett and Sebastien de Ulloa, wampyr and amateur detective. Though each mystery is self-contained, the deepening connections among the characters give the collection the flow of a novel with an emotional climax in the last story.

The elevator-pitch for this book ("magical Victorian CSI! with a vampire Sherlock Holmes! and dirigibles
This is a sort of mannerpunk or alternate history fantasy or some subset of fantasy I don't know the name of yet set in 1899-1903 with New York still under control of the British crown, it was Dutch until the Napoleonic Wars, with the Haudosonee in control of most of the interior of North America. (White people might think that, but do Plains Indians agree? That’s unfortunately not covered in this novel.) Four short stories set around Sebastien de Ulloa, a wampyr traveling to the New World with ...more
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Not that it was bad, really. I think I was disappointed that the author created a fascinating alternate reality and then teased me with mere glimpses into its world. Even the characters were constantly held at arm's length. And the plots were so dependent on arcane bits of fantasy intel that it was pretty much impossible to make actual sense of anything while it was happening. As a reader, I was just along for the ride and had to trust that it w ...more
This is a collection of six mystery novellas and novelettes featuring Abigail Irene and Don Sebastien, and it is an excellent place to start with Elizabeth Bear. It is one of her most accessible works, so if you can find a copy of it (not necessarily easy, with small-press releases) and enjoy quality prose and characters, I strongly recommend checking it out.

The novellas are sequential and build on one another, so the collection should be read in order. It starts as Don Sebastien leaves the Old
Sigrid Ellis
I try to write reviews that will be meaningful, and helpful to others, without giving too much away. Yet giving away the plot doesn't give away the skill with which that plot is carried out. It doesn't give away the author's voice, or mastery of language. To tell you what happens doesn't convey how the characters feel about what happened, nor does it explain how that reaction manifests.

New Amsterdam is about a vampire and his court. It is about a DCI in a corrupt political system. It is a police
Kate O'Hanlon
(view spoiler)

review update 21.09.11
*Deep breath*
This was a wonderful collection of paranormal murder mysteries. While Sebastien contains many the tropes of a traditional rules-vampire Bear breathes life in to his angst ridden un-death with small touches. For example, Sebastien knits. It's hard not to find this completely adorable. (Geek ladies are all about knitting apparently, at the last con I was at the front row of almost ever
Kat Mills
This was, tragically, an extremely dull take on all of its selection of genres. The mysteries had no buildup and were solved almost in afterthought; the romantic plots might have been more interesting if any of the characters had a noticeable... character; the steampunk aspects were a vague and foggy backdrop to what, at the moment, reads more like notes to the favourite bits of someone's fantasy than any cohesive storyline.

The characters, as described, could have been very interesting -- but th
This was an entertaining vampire-steampunk-alternate history, although more like a set of connected short stories than a novel.
It lost a whole star for the ending -- like, there was none. You finish the page, turn to the next, and... there's no more. The end. It pretty much cut off in the middle of a conversation.
Still, I'd read the next in the series. Elizabeth Bear's a fun writer, and the next one has some promise of pulling together into a tighter-knit book.

#8 in the read-through-the-bookshel
Susan Chamberlain
Sherlock Holmes goes to Transylvania. Really. Imagine a world where magic is practiced by government certified sorcerers and vampires are real but illegal. The New World colonies never broke away from the European Empires, westward expansion/manifest destiny were halted by the Iroquois nation, and broadcast electricity lights the streets of Paris. A thousand-year-old vampire with several notorious identities teams up with Lady Abigail Irene, who also happens to be a detective of sorcery and mist ...more
This was a good book. It reminded me slightly of some of the Agatha Christie mysteries I've read in the had a very noir feel to it. I enjoyed the fact that each chapter was actually a short story & they were organized by order of events.

Even though it had a short story/anthology feel, each story/chapter advanced the characters a little bit more.

It was a fun read, entertaining and different from most of the stuff that I've come across lately.

Even though one of the main characters i
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2008 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like alternate history or vampires
A collection of short stories, all closely tied together. So closely tied together, in fact, that I wish Bear had just decided to rewrite them as a novel. The shorter forms and tight story arcs seem to have "flattened" the characters, making their interior lives and decisions less clear (in one or two cases, nearly opaque). A novel-length treatment would have given Bear more time to flesh out the characters, especially the supporting cast. Still, a batch of appealing characters, a reasonably tex ...more
Sebastien de Ulloa is a wampyr, an ancient being who has come to the New World with his protégé, Jack Priest; Lady Abigail Irene Garrett is a Detective Crown Investigator and sorceress working for the British government in the city of New Amsterdam. In a series of intertwined novellas, they investigate various crimes, in an America which never gained its independence from Great Britain. I really liked this; the characterization is complex, the mysteries are intriguing, and the worldbuilding is e ...more
I'm not much of a reader of short stories because I tend to find them too brief to be engaging. This definitely coloured my opinion of the book. After the first two chapters of the books (which are almost two stand alone vignettes, connected by recurring characters), I really wanted to like the book more than I did because the prose was elegant and the outlines for the characters were very interesting. However, because of the vignette format I found that there was not enough over-arching plot to ...more
Vom Klappentext her habe ich eine Detektivgeschichte irgendwo zwischen Christie und Chandler erwartet. Speziell in der ersten Geschichte, in der es um einen Mord an Bord eines Zeppelins geht, stellte ich mir den Detektiv wie Peter Ustinov in der Rolle von Hercule Poirot vor. Das der "Große Detektiv" (wie er im Buch genannt wird) auch noch ein jahrhundertealter Vampir ist, hat meine Freude nicht geschmälert. Und dann sollte der besagte Detektiv am Ziel seiner Reise - der Stadt New Amsterdam in ei ...more
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Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch
More about Elizabeth Bear...

Other Books in the Series

New Amsterdam (6 books)
  • Seven for a Secret (New Amsterdam, #2)
  • The White City (New Amsterdam, #3)
  • Ad Eternum (New Amsterdam, #4)
  • Garrett Investigates (New Amsterdam, #5)
  • The Tricks of London
Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky, #1) Hammered (Jenny Casey, #1) Dust (Jacob's Ladder, #1) Karen Memory Blood and Iron (Promethean Age, #1)

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“You know," he said, "every time a vampire says he doesn't believe in lycanthropes, a werewolf bursts into flames.” 26 likes
“May I know your name, sir?"
The smile rearranged his face under the terrible scars. "Nezahualcoyotl. Michel Nezahualcoyotl. Charmed.”
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