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31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

>> Tuesday, September 7, 2010

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

Genre: Historical Fiction / Crime Fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 307
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #35
Source: Library ebook

The Short Version:
Interesting combination of historical fiction and crime/legal fiction set in 1857 New York and all based on a real crime.

Why I Read It:
It was Wendy's review at Caribousmom that made me put this book on my library wish list. I trust Wendy’s recommendations and she didn’t miss the mark with this one.

The Book:
In 1857 New York a dentist by the name of Harvey Burdell is found brutally murdered in his own home. The police immediately suspect his tenant and household manager Emma Cunningham. The case becomes a media circus and is billed by the press as the ‘crime of the century’.

The book follows the investigation and trial from the point of the discovery of Dr. Burdell’s body. Interspersed are flashbacks of Emma Cunningham’s past from before she met Dr. Burdell through their relationship and up to the night of his murder.

Harvey Clinton is hired as Mrs. Cunningham’s defense attorney and his side of the story is the preparation of her defense and his point of view throughout the trial and afterwards.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a wonderful blend of two of my favorite genres. Putting a legal crime story in a wonderful rendering of pre Civil War New York made for an entertaining and thrilling read. Although this is based on a true story I haven’t yet read the real events. I didn’t want to know before I read the book and wrote this review, but I will be reading up on the true details soon.

Horan does a wonderful job of creating the story and the setting. I felt like I could picture the house and places around New York. The political and media wrangling really show that not all that much has changed and that some of the things that annoy me about modern media and news reporting have existed in similar form for a long time. Mrs. Cunningham’s situation was definitely complicated by the limited legal and financial power of women in that era and in some ways put her in the mess in which she found herself.

I really liked Harvey Clinton and his team. His wife Elizabeth provided an important contrast to Emma Cunningham. Elizabeth was able to help her husband and use her intelligence but Emma was fairly powerless without a man.

All in all I can definitely recommend this to fans of crime stories and historical fiction. Next up for me is reading up on the true story of Dr. Burdell’s murder.

Rating 4.5/5


jenclair 9/07/2010 11:06 AM  

Sounds interesting. I like reading a historical novel and then following up on the real thing.

talesofabookaddict 9/07/2010 11:32 AM  

I just started reading this book yesterday and am loving it so far! I picked this one up at the library also on the recommendation of Wendy's review :)

Thoughts of Joy 9/07/2010 2:12 PM  

I'm excited about this one! Your review has made me want to get to it sooner than I intended.

Michelle 9/07/2010 5:59 PM  

I really did enjoy this one. You hit the nail on the head when you said you could picture the houses and such. I had such a clear mental image of the clothes, the scenery - it only added to the novel. The fact that it is based on a true story, with actual artifacts from the newspapers incorporated into the novel, really heightened my enjoyment of it. I'm glad you liked it as well!

SuziQoregon 9/10/2010 8:15 PM  

Jenclair: it really was an interesting book. It was fun to check out the real story afterwards.

BookAddict: Oh I'm going to have to check out your review. Hope you liked it as much as I did.

Joy: Oh I think you'll like it. It's a good blend of historical and crime fiction.

Michelle: I loved being able to visualize the settings. I think it showed excellent research. Good to hear you liked it too.

Sherry 9/13/2010 4:36 PM  

I must have missed Wendy's review, but I'm liking yours. I do enjoy well written historical detective fiction.

SuziQoregon 9/21/2010 8:46 PM  

Sherry: Oh I'm glad you stopped by, then. Hope you like the book.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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