Set in the first decade of the 20th century, In the Shadow of Gotham, by Stefanie Pintoff, combines the atmosphere of a gothic novel with the more invigorating pace of a police procedural. Simon Ziele has buried himself in a quiet town in Westchester County to escape the memory of his lost love. He was an up-and-coming detective in the New York City police force when tragedy drove him to seek a quieter position, far away from the violence of Manhattan’s darker quarters.
And yet, when the call came to investigate a murder at the home of one of Westchester’s finest families, Detective Ziele is drawn in by duty to find out who killed the lovely, young mathematics genius in such a shocking and brutal way before it happens again.
Quite unexpectedly and entirely too quickly to be logical, a letter arrives from a famed criminologist. He believes he knows exactly who has done this--and the trail leads back to New York City. But Dr. Alistair Sinclair of Columbia University is certain the killer wasn’t bred in the slums of Hell’s Kitchen but rather grew to maturity amidst New York’s finest families--a monster who was raised with every luxury and advantage. Dr. Sinclair, himself one of the elite, has loads of money and an eager staff to help Detective Ziele find the suspect. But the investigation takes a dark turning when members of Dr. Sinclair’s staff seem to be the killer’s latest prey.
A page-turner with lots of historical flavor, In the Shadow of Gotham delivers a satisfying mystery. Fans of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist will see many parallels with its exploration of early criminology and strong female characters, but the pacing for this Edgar-winner is quite different. It has less the intensity of a thriller, but correspondingly perhaps it allows more staying power as a series. Two sequels, A Curtain Falls and A Secret of the White Rose, are also available.