The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret and The Fatal Flame
Historical fiction can unleash a form of possession in an author. Read the Timothy Wilde trilogy by Lyndsay Faye – The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret and The Fatal Flame – and you’ll instantly see what I mean. Faye takes herself up to that prose stage and once you start reading, you’re going to hear the voice of Timothy Wilde through three historical mysteries set in New York City as it first created a police force. The books are addictive page-turners and literary immersions in another time and place. The characters are rough and ready, but full of shaded depths.Faye writes much of these book in the paotios of the time, an argot called “flash” by the characters who use it. It gives the books a sort of “Clockwork orange” feel, which matches up nicely with the utter ugliness of New York City in the 1860’s. Credit Faye with the skill to write beautifully about a time and ploace that is most assuredly alarming.
Each book offers a mystery written around a theme, be it child labor, slavery or women – and the three of them chart a larger arc as well. Faye keeps the writing and plotting very tight. She never succumbs to the temptation to make each book longer than the last. Suffice it to say that by the time you finish, you’ll be champing at the bit for another trilogy.
That said, her new book is not a sequel, at least not to these. Titled Jane Steele, it imagines Jane Eyre as a serial killer. Make no mistake, Faye is the one to make this novel better than you can possibly imagine.
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