Simon Ziele, former NYC detective, has moved to rural Dobson, NY after the death of his fiancée. It is 1905 and he is hoping to find some peace and less violence in his life. This is not to be. A young female graduate student is brutally murdered while visiting her aunt in Dobson and the housemaid has vanished without any of her belongings. When a Columbia University criminologist, Alistair Sinclair, shows up the next day, things take a decidedly odd turn. Sinclair states he believes he knows who the murderer is based on the method. He has a patient he thought was purged of his violent actions by expressing them as fantasies in their sessions; but this crime is too similar to those fantasies and the patient, Michael Fromley, has disappeared. While skeptical of Sinclair’s theory, Simon returns to New York to work with him and pursue Fromley. His return to the city is painful but he is certain the solution to the crime will be found there.
Just as Simon finds himself caught between the old and the new in Sinclair’s early theories on profiling, the city itself is in a great change as well. The streets are a battleground of horses, cars, and pedestrians. Tammany Hall is stealing elections, Grand Central Station is going up, the subway opened recently and the elevated trains run overhead. Simon is both intrigued by and wary of the changes as he pursues his suspect, Fromley, and explores the ideas Alistair proposes.
In the Shadow of Gotham was a totally satisfying book! It is a very good mystery; it has well defined, believable characters; it evokes the New York of the early 1900’s beautifully; the writing style is literate without being pompous. A fines herbs omelette of a book.
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The Interpretation of Murder by Jeb Rubenfeld