31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan – Book Review

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

When Dr. Harvey Burdell is discovered brutally murdered one morning at 31 Bond Street, his boarder and household manager, Emma Cunningham is immediately suspected. When a secret marriage certificate is found dating to two weeks before the murder, her fate seems to be sealed, until she manages to hire Henry Clinton as her lawyer. Alternating between the months leading up to the murder and the time after the murder leading up to the trial, “31 Bond Street” is grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn’t let go.

If you know my reading well, you know that I am often less than enamored with historical fiction set in the United States. There are a fair number of exceptions, but as a rule it doesn’t interest me – which is odd, because I have always loved American history. Happily, “31 Bond Street” was precisely one of those exceptions.

I was drawn to every aspect of “31 Bond Street.” First of all, real life murder mystery! It is a bit gruesome if you are squeamish about that sort of thing, but the details aren’t too pervasive, so you could probably sort of gloss over them. I loved the way that Horan drew the setting, I truly got the feel of mid-19th century New York. Then there was the way that the characters and their stories were unraveled: slow enough to keep me in suspense, fast enough that I didn’t get bored or annoyed.

I also thought the story and structure were fabulous. Horan did a wonderful job interweaving the historical facts as they are known with her own conjecture and conclusions. It kept the story moving and allowed for some sort of resolution to the mystery, instead of being left with the questions in the historical record. This is the kind of thing that breathes life into a story, and it was done perfectly. So too the decision to alternate between the time before and the time after the murder. Each storyline was told chronologically, and they both ultimately were leading to the same conclusion reached at different times, which lent a nice sense of balance to the story, while constantly building suspense.

Really, the only thing that disappointed me about this book is that it is Horan’s first, so I couldn’t pop out and grab another one to read. Even so, it was the kind of book that left me so high on the experience of reading it that I just wanted to keep reading anything I could get my hands on, even if it was completely different.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from the author.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2010

13 comments to 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan – Book Review

  • Amy

    This sounds like a really well written and interesting book. I love historical murder mysteries!

  • This book actually seems really great – I feel like I’ve seen it before, but I don’t think I have it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

  • Ooooh, this one sounds good. I have been on the lookout for literary mysteries recently and this one looks like it fits the bill!

  • This one has been on my want list for some time. I’m glad you liked it!

  • There is nothing quite like a good true crime book. And to think, the only negative thing you could say is that the author didn’t have any more books! That is a complement if I’ve ever seen one!

  • I read this and like you, can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

  • Sounds really, really good Jen. I actually didn’t read this BECAUSE it was set in the US, and like you, I (for some odd reason – bc I, too, actually really love US history) don’t tend to love hist-fic that takes place in the States. But living in NYC, I could totally see myself sitting in a coffee shop down on Bond St. digging into this. Also didn’t realize that this was based on a true story. Will have to check it out next time I’m at the bookstore (so, like, tomorrow :).

  • I love the whole premise of this one and your love for it is contagious and now I must read it!! 😀

  • Amy

    I have this on my TBR. I might need to move it closer to the top of the list.

  • I won this one recently and am really looking forward to it now :)

  • I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while now. I’m even more psyched to get my hands on it now. Thanks for the review.

  • I have this here in my TBR. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I usually like US historical fiction, so if this one grabbed you, I bound to like it too.

  • I don’t think I loved it as much as you did, but I enjoyed it very much. I loved the ambiguity – is she a social climber? a murderer? a victim? I was also intrigued by the fact that it was based on a true story – that’s always a plus.