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In the Shadow of Gotham

(Simon Ziele #1)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  3,847 ratings  ·  548 reviews
Dobson, New York,1905.

Detective Simon Ziele lost his fiancée in the General Slocum ferry disaster—a thousand perished on that summer day in 1904 when an onboard fire burned the boat down in the waters of the East River. Still reeling from the tragedy, Ziele transferred to a police department north of New York, to escape the city and all the memories it conjured.

But only a
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by Minotaur Books
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The book is set in 1905, in New York and we are introduced to Detective Simon Ziele who has transferred himself from the main city of New York to a small police department, in the town of Dobson, north of New York, in order to escape from the tragic memories of his fiancee, who died in the Slocum ferry disaster a year earlier. However, only a few months into his new job and he is faced with the task of solving one of the most brutal homicide he has witnessed in his career and what is most ...more
First Sentence: The scream that pierced the dull yellow November sky was preternaturally high-pitched.

Simon Ziele left being a policeman in New York City after a personal tragedy and injury. Now in the New York, East River town of Dobson, a young woman has been brutally killed while staying with her aunt. Simon is surprised when noted criminologist, Alistair Sinclair, proclaims he knows the killer. But does he?

I really did want to like this book but there were just too many things wrong with it.
Not very good at all. This book was nominated for the Anthony Award for best first and won the Edgar in the same category which frankly baffles me. The plotting was simplistic (Whodunit was painfully obvious), characters were thin and wooden, and even the historical details were not interesting. This ranks up there as one of the most boring books I have ever finished.
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of historical fiction, historical mystery and crime
Ah!! A new historical fiction series for me to enjoy. Set in 1905, this first entry involves a brutal murder in a small town just outside New York city and pulls in a former city policeman who now lives in that community. The reader is treated to a picture of the state of crime-fighting at that time, with wonderful visual pictures of the New York and suburban streets. New methods of understanding criminal behavior are being tested during the search for the killer.

Highly recommended for those who
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Here's a debut well worth reading. If you like forensics, the workings of the criminal mind or books like Caleb Carr's Alienist, In the Shadow of Gotham should be on your TBR list.

After losing his fiancee in the Slocum Ferry disaster, police detective, Simon Ziele, in hopes of fleeing his memories, escapes New York City and relocates several miles north to Dobson, a quiet village. His quiet is soon interrupted with the brutal stabbing and death of Sarah Wingate. Very early on Ziele is contacted
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 ...more
Talulah Mankiller
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
In the Shadow of Gotham (Minotaur 2009) introduces Simon Ziele, a police detective who lost his fiancee and the full use of his right arm in the 1904 wreck of the steamship General Slocum. Ziele has relocated from New York City to the town of Dobson, hoping for a quieter existence and time to recover from his loss, but the brutal and bloody murder of young mathematics student Sarah Wingate shatters his peaceful retreat. The investigation has barely begun when Ziele receives a communication from ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2009
A completely enjoyable read by a new author. In the Shadow of Gotham is detective mystery novel that takes place in NYC at the very beginning of the 20th century. Detective Ziele partners up with a professor of criminology to find the person who killed a brilliant female math student. As far as detective novels go, it's not original or innovative, but it's extremely well-written and while I correctly identified the perpetrator near the beginning, Pintoff kept things mysterious enough that I ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I'm really giving this book 3.5 stars. Many of the plot twists, which are what lead to a surprising denouement in other books, are easily predicted while others jump out at you in surprise right to the very end. For some reason, I don't think that the actual solving of the mystery is what the book is about; rather, it's a look into the investigative process and the beginnings of criminal psychology. I plan on reading the other books in the series
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
This is a very character driven book. That's certainly unusual for a mystery since setting and location often play a huge part in crime fiction. The story is set in the shadow of NY (hence the title) but the setting itself is very vague and not knowing NY very much at all I couldn't orient myself simply by namedropped landmarks and street numbers.

It was rather fascinating to read a historical mystery set at the turn of the century just when criminology and the attempt to understand the criminal
Catherine Siemann
Historical mysteries set in New York City are like catnip to me -- I love NYC history, and I love seeing how the author will play with the conventions. This one, set in 1905, was . . . pretty good. There were some anachronisms and other slips that jarred me: particularly a reference to a man's shirtwaist (wouldn't it be shirtwaists for women and shirts for men at that time?) and a couple of academic specifics about journal publication and "professor emeritus" (a 55 year old man who was still ...more
Jun 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Three and a half stars.

Very good detective mystery novel with a historical setting of New York in 1905. The author did her homework in the forensics of the era so the authenticity rings true. I am also in awe of any mystery novel in which the identity of the murderer remain unclear to me until the end. The story does offer lots of red herrings. Overall a pleasant mystery worth the time to read.
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was rather disappointed by this book. It was well-written but the story was pretty pedestrian and the mystery aspect was rather weak. It was obvious from early on who the murderer was and the motive was predictable as well, leading to a boring ending. The lead character was not much of an investigator and did not display impressive police skills. I picked this up due to the comparisons to "The Alienist", which I loved, but this book is not in the same ballpark.
Nov 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a great first novel. I can only imaginge that Ms. Pintoff's future books will get better and better.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
New York City cop Simon Ziele lost his fiancee and the use of one arm when the General Slocum caught fire and sank in the East River in 1904. Now, a year later, he's policing in the small town of Dobson, not so many miles outside the city. Serious crime is more-or-less unheard-of in Dobson -- that is, until the day Sarah Wingate is brutally murdered.

Simon has hardly begun his investigation when he's contacted by Alistair Sinclair, an academic criminologist working out of Columbia University.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first book of a new-to-me series is set in 1905 in New York City. Lots of historical details including the political climate of the time, specific historical occurrences, physical descriptions of city expansion and how dirty the streets are, as well as the developing social consciousness, help to give an authentic feel to this story. The story is engaging and the characters are well developed. Altogether a satisfying read I recommend to anyone who likes either cozy mysteries or police ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Round up to 3.5 stars.
When I started looking for a final book for the Criminal Plots III Reading Challenge (Read a novel that's been nominated for and Edgar in the last five years), I was relieved to find In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff sitting on my shelves since I'm trying really hard to read more from my own stacks. I'm not much for reading more recent books, but I had picked this one up last May while browsing in our Friends of the Library used book store. It was purely a whim--based on the cover, the ...more
Deborah Cater
Feb 02, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody!
This novel won the author two awards for best first crime novel and I am trying to figure out why. The premise of the novel is good - turn of the (20th) century New York is the location, combined with an insight into the suffragette movement, the emerging sciences of forensics and psychological profiling, a detective who has a decent back-story and a suitably disturbed killer. Sadly, Pintoff failed to deliver.

There was no feeling of place – New York was as flat as a theatre back-drop; the
Barbara Storey
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
I picked up this book - and the sequel to it - just before Christmas because they were remainders and cheap, and the reviews on the covers compared them to Caleb Carr's "The Alienist." And I have to say . . . I really regret buying both of them. Because "In the Shadow of Gotham" is BAD.

The idea - the mystery itself and the plot - are okay, and would have been much more interesting in the hands of a good writer. Sadly, Pintoff is not a good writer. She overwrites extensively - putting information
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Historical fiction and murder mystery all rolled into one book. Really loved how the author used the early days of forensics to solve her crimes. This one was a real page turner and while I was able to figure out whodunit, this one still kept me guessing with some of the details up until the end. I can see why Pintoff was a finalist for the Edgar award. I am happy to see there is another book with Detective Simon Ziele.
Linda Lipko
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff. I was disappointed by this mystery set in New York City in early 1900's.

It was a convoluted, non-page turner and not worthy of more of my time, thus I'm not writing an official review. I finished it because it held my interest, but I cannot recommend it.
DeeDee Rice
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stefani Pintoffs first novel about Detective Zeil was well done, it was both a murder mystery and historical fiction. An interesting story that depicts a young detective in New York in 1905, who was open to the newer modern techniques that were just beginning at that time. I'll be reading the other books in this series.
Aug 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is 1904 and Detective Simon Ziele fled New York City to take a job in the small town of Dobson, New York after his fiancée is tragically killed. Soon after he arrives, the horrific murder of a young woman in her own home is committed in Dobson and it eventually leads Simon back the city and Columbia University where renowned criminologist, Alistair Sinclair helps him investigate a man he has studied that he believes is the prime suspect in the case.

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
I picked up Stefanie Pintoff's "In the Shadow of Gotham" looking for a good historical fiction with plenty of thrills. As someone who enjoys murder mysteries and New York's history, this book had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, it did not deliver.

The story itself meanders quite a bit and is very talky, with little excitement. There is a great deal of focus on criminology, which the author clearly researched is some detail. While the plotline does eventually take some interesting twists and is
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
It’s the year 1905 in Dobson, New York. On a mild winter evening, someone brutally murders Sarah Wingate in her bedroom while she’s visiting relatives. A brilliant mathematician, she had a promising future ahead of her. So why would anyone want to kill her?

After the death of his fiancée on the General Slocum ferry disaster in the summer of 1904, Detective Simon Ziele transfers to a police department north of New York, away from the city, to heal. He didn’t expect to encounter a vicious homicide
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I saw Pintoff’s books recommended in an article by Jason Pinter, and knew immediately that I had to add them to my wish list. This was an entertaining depiction of turn-of-the-century investigation, where one often had to rely more upon luck than physical evidence. Not only do we see the earliest days of forensics, where even fingerprinting is brand new, but we see the beginnings of the use of criminology. It’s a time period I find particularly interesting to read about; a world caught somewhere ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
I think the word "lacking" best describes my feelings about this story. It's lacking in characterization, twists, and the the author's ability to edit unnecessary *stuff*.

Characterization: I really couldn't care about any one character. Everyone is horribly boring and one-dimensional. Even the backstories we're given are weak and predictable.

Twists: Maybe because I've read a lot of Deaver, I've become spoiled and expect great twists in detective fiction. I'm usually pretty bad at figuring out
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Stefanie Pintoff is the Edgar award-winning author of HOSTAGE TAKER and the Simon Ziele historical mysteries. Her writing has also won the Washington Irving Book Prize and earned nominations for the Anthony, Macavity, and Agatha awards. Pintoff's novels have been published around the world, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Croatia, and Japan. She lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where she ...more

Other books in the series

Simon Ziele (3 books)
  • A Curtain Falls (Simon Ziele, #2)
  • Secret of the White Rose (Simon Ziele, #3)