It is the dawn of the 20th century, and Detective Simon Ziele is attempting to recover from the death of his fiance in a steamer accident. Her death has caused him to leave the city police force and join the force in the much smaller town of Dobson, New York. So far, the quiet pace has been comforting, but that all changes with the murder of Sarah Wingate, a young collegiate who was visiting her aunt in the country.
Sarah is not your typical lady; she is a mathematician studying at Columbia University and the competition between the coeds is fierce. Sarah is attempting to solve a difficult mathematical formula. While you wouldn’t assume that a math problem would invoke such jealousy, Sarah’s peers are after her to discover her solution. It is unclear to Ziele whether this envy could have motivated a murder.
Add to that the fact that Ziele is contacted by a man named Alistair Sinclair, a criminologist at Columbia. He believes he knows who the culprit is, but the problem is the suspect disappeared to weeks previously. Ziele is forced to decide whether he should heed to Sinclair’s hunch or whether he should go off on a different tangent.
The fact that I bought this book is pretty shocking. I tend to only buy books I have heard of before, or at LEAST heard of the author before, but I stumbled upon In the Shadow of Gotham at a used book sale, and for the price, I could see no reason to not take a chance on it. Not to mention I was on a huge mystery kick last month. I am glad I took a chance, because this book turned out to be really gripping. Was the whodunit aspect a mystery? Not really. I had the pool of suspects narrowed down fairly quickly, and my hunch turned out to be right, so I was a little shocked by the fact that Sinclair and Ziele didn’t pick up on it sooner. I suppose Pintoff had to make the book a little longer!
One issue I did have with the book was the storyline of the dead fiance. It was mentioned on the back of the book, so I assumed that it would play into the book a lot, but it really didn’t. I kept hoping for more information on Ziele; how he felt about the situation, how he was coping, and what exactly happened to his fiance, but it was only touched on briefly a few times.
Despite my few qualms about the book, the issues were minor, and overall I certainly thought it was a great plot that was finely written. I plan to read more Pintoff in the future.
I purchased this book from a book sale.