Deborah Cater's Reviews > In the Shadow of Gotham

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff
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Feb 02, 2014

did not like it
Recommended 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 characters suffered the same fate. The detective, Ziele, may have had an interesting back-story but at no point was I able to feel the grief that Ziele was apparently experiencing. The research which Pintoff had evidently carried out was shown in the way of facts scattered throughout the narrative, but the activities of suffragettes, criminologists and the police were not engaging or enlightening. As a result I felt disconnected from characters and storyline alike.

The pace of a thriller is crucial, it needs to keep you engaged and in suspense until the denouement. Pintoff felt the need to explain her character’s emotions and ideas not just in their speeches but repeated in clunky narrative. These repetitions were unnecessary; I felt like a schoolchild being led by the hand. Just when the storyline picked up pace, like the horses drawing Ziele up the hill to the murder scene in Dobson, we stumbled over a loose cobblestone of narrative; momentum was lost. A decent editor could have made this a smoother read. But the most disappointing aspect of the novel was the fact that I was able to work out the identity of the killer 1/3 of the way through; and so should have the supposedly intelligent detective.

In short, ‘In the Shadow of Gotham’ promised much but was a disappointing read.

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Reading Progress

February 2, 2014 – Started Reading
February 2, 2014 – Shelved
February 2, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 5, 2014 – Finished Reading

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