Thursday, February 04, 2010

Book Review: "31 Bond Street"

Taking a real-life 1857 New York City murder case as her inspiration, Ellen Horan has written a book that lets me use one of my favorite biblio-adjectives: "unputdownable." 31 Bond Street (coming in April 2010 from Harper) dramatizes the sensational murder of Dr. Harvey Burdell, and the ensuing trial of his mistress Emma Cunningham. Horan's simplified some aspects of the case and fictionalized others, but in telling the story by interspersing sections on Cunningham's trial with flashbacks to the days around the murder, she's made a creepy, coherent narrative out of it that manages to keep the twist obscured until the last possible moment.

This reminded me of works by Caleb Carr, another writer who's able to create richly-textured historical crime fiction that has the power to absolutely creep me out and keep me up at night until I've read all the way to the end.

A good diversion for fans of this genre - recommended.

1 comment:

Bill Peschel said...

If you're interested in the original story, I heartily recommend Jack Finney's "Forgotten News: The Crime of the Century and Other Lost Stories." He digs into the newspaper files, finds original woodcuts of the principals, and even finds the site of the murder (the building's torn down, but one nearby is a dead ringer for it).

There's also a true crime book published recently called "Butchery on Bond Street" published by a historical society that also looks good.