Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,  I had such a wonderful time at the Beach Palapalooza this weekend. The Beach Committee deserves a round of applause for orchestrating this great event. While listening to the beautiful music of Rich Boehm, one of the event’s many, many talented performers, I overheard someone mentioning a book she was reading for a book club; it was a mystery set in New York City in the 1850’s based on an actual murder trial. I love that time period in NYC history. Do you know this book?  Fixated on the 1850’s

Dear Fixated,  I too enjoyed the Palapalooza tremendously. I was there off and on from morning until the 11pm closing…great fun!  The book you are interested in is a favorite of mine: 31 BOND STREET by Ellen Horan. Based on a sensational murder case,  this historical novel  explores a time of enormous wealth and crushing poverty,  the tensions brought about by the recently passed Fugitive Slave Act which seemed posed to undo the successes  of the Underground Railroad, the dubious ethics of sensational journalists, and the massive corruption of city police and politicians.  New York City is described in such detail that you quickly come to realize the city is a major character in this  novel.  While our sympathies lie with the defendant, the mysterious Emma Cunningham and her  idealistic attorney Henry Clinton,  we are still shaken by the brutality of the dentist Harvey Burdell’s murder. Although the story takes place 150 years ago, there is a strange sense of the familiar throughout. A compelling read!  

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