Summary (from Goodreads):
“Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, thinks himself well versed in his city’s dark practices—until he learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the “blackbirders,” who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.
The abolitionist Timothy is horrified by these traders in human flesh. But in 1846, slave catching isn’t just legal—it’s law enforcement.
When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, “My family.” Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and corpses appear in the most shocking of places. Timothy finds himself caught between power and principles, desperate to protect his only brother and to unravel the puzzle before all he cares for is lost.”
This is the sequel to Gods of Gotham although I think you can read this as a standalone novel, as well. As much as I loved Gods of Gotham, this book is even better.
I didn’t realize that even being up north and having your freedom didn’t guarantee your safety. As the synopsis says, there are people who will kidnap free African-Americans and sell them into slavery for plantation owners in the south. Stop and think about that for a second. You’re a free-born citizen living in New York. You come home one day, some random white guy grabs you and sells you into slavery—and it’s completely legal because you, as an African-American, can’t testify on your own behalf.
But this isn’t a preachy book. That was a fact of life in that time and it’s dealt with as a fact. (Which means that there are people who support it and people who don’t.) I admire the fact that Lyndsay Faye didn’t really turn this into a “teachable moment,” because I’m sure it would’ve been incredibly easy to do.
As with The Gods of Gotham, her prose is absolutely gorgeous. It’s no surprise that writers I love (Gillian Flynn and Michael Connelly among them) have praised her books.
I definitely plan to buy every book she writes from now on and I hope to find the book she wrote that deals with Jack the Ripper.