I really enjoyed The Gods of Gotham, the first in Lyndsay Faye’s Timothy Wilde series set in 1840s New York. A world of misery and hardship, where the fledgling NYPD, the ‘copper stars’, are hand in fist with the corrupt politicians and their various nefarious ties to slave traders and brothel keepers. Basically a big sweaty pot of horror and violence, for a fiction writer what should amount to a lot of good fun.
So why on Early Faye has decided to make Wilde so bloody miserable I don’t know. Trapped in a love-hate relationship with his far more exciting and hero-worthy, Val, Timothy bundles around making mischief and pouting, slamming people against walls and being very very angry. He has good morals, and a clever mind, and could be a good detective, but this is written in first person and parts are just so endless. I found myself skim reading whole chunks of internal monologue, missing vital plot points, and having to double back to find out what was going on.
The plot itself is really quite good, dealing with the slave trade and the horrible dealings of ‘blackbirders’, kidnappers of runaway slaves, or, more often than not, free men who are then sold into slavery. It is a disgusting part of history, that I am glad 12 Years a Slave has brought out into the light, and Faye has obviously done her homework. She shows how every part of the political system was built on the backs of enslaved people and you feel throughly disgusted by the end.
Once again, Faye has conjured a fascinating world, and parts of this book are just masterful. This series will hopefully continue, with maybe a little tightening that would make it perfect. I would definitely read The Gods of Gotham first, though, as this book will spoiler it massively.
Faye is a Baker Street Babe, and has written a Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper mystery, as well as contributing to several books about the London Detective. Val and Timothy together make Sherlock, but Timothy is all Dr Watson. And, much as Dr Watson is a wonderful narrator, it is Sherlock who is the hero. Val is wonderful, and I wish to see more of him. But I am very pleased with the development of Mrs Brohme.