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Gilded Needles

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  192 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Welcome to the Black Triangle, New York's decadent district of opium dens, gambling casinos, drunken sailors, gaudy hookers, and back room abortions. The queen of this unsavory neighborhood is Black Lena Shanks, whose family leads a ring of female criminals-women skilled in the art of cruelty.

Only a few blocks away, amidst the elegant mansions and lily-white reputations o
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Paperback, 342 pages
Published November 1st 1980 by Avon Books (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30)
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Char
4.5 stars!

This book was SO MUCH fun! Set in the early 1880's in the city of New York in a district called The Black Triangle,(where crime runs rampant and poverty reigns), McDowell brings the city and this district vividly to life. Abortions, prostitution and gambling are just a few of the dark deeds that are common here.

Black Lena Shanks and family run their all female criminal empire here without interference from police or anyone else. That is until the The Tribune decides to run a series of
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Kimberly
Sep 14, 2016 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: valancourt, revenge
4.5 stars!

GILDED NEEDLES, by Michael McDowell is another tale rich in atmosphere that has been re-released by Valancourt Books. I quickly became a McDowell fan after reading some of his supernatural-themed titles. In Gilded Needles, he takes a much different approach. We are presented with an elaborately vivid tale of two vastly different families living in New York.

The Shanks family, headed by matriarch Black Lena Shanks, live in the "wicked", poor area known as the Black Triangle. They have a
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Jon Recluse
Aug 30, 2015 Jon Recluse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, thriller
A dark historical thriller set in the infamous Black Triangle of 1880s New York, where crime is rampant, every vice is available for a price, and even the law can be bought.
When a "crusading" judge declares war on an all female criminal empire by sentencing three of its members to death, his entire family receives invitations to their own funerals in the opening salvo of a campaign of revenge and terror from the "queen" of the Black Triangle......Black Lena Shanks.

And Hell hath no fury....

McDow
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Nancy Oakes
May 16, 2016 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gilded Needles is without a doubt one of the darkest, creepiest tales of revenge that I've ever had the pleasure to have read.

The setting of Gilded Needles is New York, 1882. The first thing that struck me on opening the book was the most excellent panoramic view of the city as the old year changes into the new. The author provides us here with a glimpse across the spectrum into what's happening at that moment, giving us a peek at the lives of "... the poor whose poverty was such that they woul
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Kate
Oct 07, 2016 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The upper class Stallworths, looking to gain political favour, decide to wage war on the sqalid NY district called The Black Triangle. The Shanks family, known for all manner of criminal activity, get caught in the crosshairs of the family's investigations in the area. When matters turn deadly, Black Lena decides to seek vengeance for the loss of her kin.
Set in the late 1800s, this book is rich in historical detail and you get a complete sense of the era. The authors descriptions of life in the
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Kimberly
*re-read 9/2016: rounding up to 5 stars!

4.5 stars!

GILDED NEEDLES, by Michael McDowell is another tale rich in atmosphere that has been re-released by Valancourt Books. I quickly became a McDowell fan after reading some of his supernatural-themed titles. In Gilded Needles, he takes a much different approach. We are presented with an elaborately vivid tale of two vastly different families living in New York.

The Shanks family, headed by matriarch Black Lena Shanks, live in the "wicked", poor area
...more
Andi
Aug 01, 2015 Andi rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.

Another great read from Michael McDowell. Gilded Needles is set in New York City in the late 1800's. For those who aren't familiar with McDowell's writing, his often formally written prose is laced with both subtle humor and outright wit. Although I felt that a few parts of the book could have been shorter, the story itself is captivating and well-paced.

The Stallworth's are a wealthy family living in one of New York's wealthier neighborhoods. The Shanks' are a family of criminals livi
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Matthew
Jul 09, 2015 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gilded Needles is both twisted and entertaining and I loved reading every page of it. McDowell does a really good job of making you truly hate and despise certain characters throughout the story and that just makes the vengeance visited upon them even sweeter. The descriptions of the Black Triangle really left me with a bad taste in my mouth(the taste of stale beer mixed with the smell of an outhouse to be exact). For whatever reason I enjoyed feeling like I was thrown into this disgusting part ...more
Stephen
Oct 27, 2015 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gilded,Needles

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It had me guessing what would happen next. It was a fun twisted revenge story.
April
Jan 08, 2016 April rated it it was amazing
Bleaker than Dickens' "Bleak House" McDowell's novel set in 1882 New York City details the horrific lengths individuals will go to in the face of death, poverty, and loss. The city is a character in itself, full of the dregs of society; pocket-picking street urchins, backstreet hustlers, swindling prostitutes, and a host of other law breakers. In the midst of this miasma of the destitute, stands the upper class, so divided from the poor they cannot even begin to comprehend the horribleness ...more
Lee Dunning
Mar 20, 2014 Lee Dunning rated it really liked it
Of all the old books I've reread recently, this one held up the best over the passage of time. I've never read any of Michael McDowell's other books, which I'm sorry about now, so I may have to try to find old, used copies. Apparently, his work is normally more firmly entrenched in the horror genre, where "Gilded Needles" is very much set in the real world, albeit a harsh and dangerous one. The true horror, I suppose, is the means by which humans will subjugate and judge one another. There is no ...more
Benjamin Bauer
Jun 09, 2016 Benjamin Bauer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Holy shit. A more satisfying revenge yarn you'd be hard-pressed to find. A practically Dickensian one no less!

Now, the back of the book, at least the Avon edition, makes it sound as though the Stallworths are the heroes and that Black Lena and her crew are the villains of this tale. Truthfully, this book doesn't concern itself with black and white delineations like that. Both sides do equally horrid things to one another. But contrary to the synopsis, I found Lena and her family immensely more s
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Alyce
Aug 20, 2016 Alyce rated it really liked it
I think Michael McDowell is one of my "new" favorite authors -- sadly he's deceased. I'm truly surprised that he isn't more of a "household name" in literary horror. He was an excellent writer and wrote some very, very well-written, dark stuff. (Also co-wrote the screenplay for Beetlejuice, interestingly enough.)

"The Elementals" is still my favorite of his, that one got me good, but I really liked this one too. There's nothing supernatural about this one, it's Victorian and gothic and just plain
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S.A.
Jul 24, 2012 S.A. rated it liked it
I read this book many years ago and revisted it this summer.

This book is the bridge between McDowell's first two novels and his amazing book "Elementals" which bridged onto his wonderful "Blackwater" series. This series is one of the best Southern gothic horror series ever.

Unrelenting in descriptions of poverty and torment, which makes the read not one for the squeamish.

More of a revenge novel rather than a horror novel but still, a great progression beyond his first two novels. Dark whispers
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Robert
Apr 15, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok
I've enjoyed other Michael McDowell books very much, particularly his 6 volume Blackwater series and the scary horror tale The Elementals, but this revenge story was a pretty grim affair, populated as it was with mostly unpleasant, unsympathetic characters and winding down to a fairly predictable outcome.
A.R.
Feb 04, 2016 A.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The supreme revenge taken by a invincible family of criminals on a "righteous" family of would-be saints and stern lawyers is mind-boggling. Filled with the terror of gory deaths and ruined lives, this novels stuns with its visceral intensity. What can I say? The immensely-talented man did it again!
Stephen
May 14, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
An author who passed some years back, Michael McDowell was on a roll. Great characters, setting ,and prose. Telling the story with a Victorian tongue, never lost pace. Well written and highly recommended.
Audrey
Sep 19, 2015 Audrey rated it really liked it
I liked it, but I didn't love it, like I've loved all the other McDowell books I've read. That said, I do think it's very clever and well-written, and its overall quality is not a reflection of how much I liked it.

That was confusing. Let me try again: this is a 4-star book I only liked 3 stars of.
Chelsea
Apr 26, 2016 Chelsea rated it really liked it
I'm an avid fan of McDowell's work, and this book is very different from the others I've thoroughly enjoyed. It's slow to start, but quickly picks up pace in the second half, only to steam roll into a dark and satisfying ending.
Bettina A Hines
Oct 14, 2015 Bettina A Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read all of McDowell's work, and enjoyed all of his books. This story, while very interesting, was different than his other works. His other works had a supernatural tone, but this one did not. Still, the book was enjoyable.
Debra
Feb 27, 2015 Debra rated it really liked it
Stephen King recommended author. He says: “McDowell must now be regarded as the finest writer of paperback originals in America.”
Joseph Marsille
Joseph Marsille rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2016
Ray Smiley
Ray Smiley rated it really liked it
Sep 14, 2013
Jackie*
Jackie* rated it liked it
Sep 29, 2007
Barrymore Tebbs
Barrymore Tebbs rated it liked it
Aug 29, 2012
Nancy Collins
Nancy Collins rated it really liked it
Aug 29, 2012
Shannon
Shannon rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2016
Allan
Allan rated it really liked it
Dec 21, 2014
Kristie
Kristie rated it really liked it
Feb 15, 2016
Fanny
Fanny rated it really liked it
Aug 27, 2007
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Michael McDowell is a prolific horror writer who has distinguished himself with a varied body of work within the genre. He was born in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1950 and died of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1999.

His first horror novel, The Amulet, relates the tragedies that befall various individuals who come in possession of a supernatural bracelet in a small town.

In McDowell'
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More about Michael McDowell...

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