Annalisa's Reviews > In the Shadow of Gotham

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff
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Jan 25, 10

bookshelves: historical-fiction, mystery-thriller, cover
Read from January 07 to 23, 2010

The reason it took me so long to get into this story is that Pintoff failed to create a realistic picture of New York in 1905 for me. She did plenty of research and threw in random facts about the era that distracted from the story, but I needed them to remind me that this was indeed historical fiction. Little things like a telephone in every residence with no mention of switchboard operators and a police photographer excessively snapping shots of a crime scene even though cameras were just recently invented didn't capture the newness of inventions we take for granted. I wanted to hear about buying papers from newsies and horse-drawn carriages and shoe shiners on the street and parasols and all that stuff to give it that turn-of-the-century authenticity.

I could have bought the setting if the characters fit the era. Every single one of them, down the old-money elderly matron, was liberal beyond their times with weak references to the "they" of society that they didn't fit into. You had the outspoken for women's suffrage girl getting her masters when it was unusual enough for a woman to get any college education, the criminologist who had such a grasp of psychopaths when the term was only coined a decade before that he was able to provide accurate profiling when criminal profiling didn't take off for half a century later. Even the lawyer seemed to hint at Miranda rights (1960s) and a prostitute was embarrassed to have taken hush money instead of suing when a prostitute in that day would be happy to get any money and would know her chances in court. I had a hard time believing these characters lived in 1905, maybe if they were mixed with more conservative characters, but the whole lot of them I didn't.

I figured out the culprit pretty early on but then doubted myself so I was curious about the mystery. And despite doubting that the characters would have understood psychology and profiling, I still love that stuff so it was fascinating to me. The writing was a little dry and sometimes awkward, which made the story hard to get into, but once the mystery took over the scene setting , it was easier to read and then I could enjoy the story. It was a struggle to get there though.
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Reading Progress

01/19/2010 page 80
20.0% "I can tell when I find things to do other than reading, that I'm not fully invested in a book."

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