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.This review was done with a book received from the author.
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