Friday, May 7, 2010
"Character is like a tree, a reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree the real thing." Abraham Lincoln
The "General Slocum" ferry caught fire and burned in June 1904, killing over 1,000 people. One of the killed was New York Police Detective Simon Ziele's fiancee, Hannah. With so many people having friends and or family killed, Ziele moved to the village of Dobson, New York, looking for a more peaceful life.
His peace is shattered when Simon and his boss, Joe Healy are summoned to the home of Mrs. Virginia Wingate, where her niece, Sara, has been brutally murdered.
The killing was senseless. Sara had only recently arrived at the Wingate's in search of a quiet place where she could study. She was a student in her fourth year in Columbia grad school, in a mathematics program.
Simon is visited by Alistair Sinclair, a professor of law at Columbia. Alistair states that he believes that Michael Fromley might be the killer. Alistair is a criminologist and claims that Fromley has killed before. Thereafter, Alistair and his daughter in law, Isabella, assist Simon in the investigation.
Interspersed within the story are historical facts about the times. This adds realism and is an interesting side to the story. One example is when Simon gets a ride on a "...new Ford Model B motorcar." While in the car, he realizes that this is his first ride in an automobile. There are also interesting facts about women who are striving to have more say in politics.
The psychological novel is well told and the conclusions are logical although I felt that the conclusion was a bit orchestrated. Simon Ziele is an original and refreshing character, he is very analytical and takes advantage of the latest scientific advances, such as the art of fingerprinting, to help solve the case. The novel has been well received by critics and recently won the Edgar Award for the Best First mystery novel written in 2009.