In the Shadow of Gotham
In the Shadow of Gotham opens with a brutal murder in the wealthy but quiet neighborhood of Dobson, New York, in the beginning years of the 20th century. Sarah Wingate, mathematics major at Columbia University, is visiting her aunt for the weekend when her stabbed and battered body is found in an upstairs bedroom. The Wingates’ maid, Stella, also disappeared on the day of the crime.
Heading up the investigation is Detective Simon Ziele, who has been on the force for only a few months. He left the city after his betrothed died in the General Slocum tragedy. Soon after the investigation begins, he meets Columbia University criminologist Alistair Sinclair and his beautiful widowed daughter-in-law and assistant, Isabella Sinclair. Dr. Sinclair believes that “criminals are best understood through their crimes” and has been working closely with patient Michael Fromley, a sociopath with a history of violence and an arrest for the stabbing of a prostitute. By having regular sessions Alistair hopes to rehabilitate Michael before a more serious crime occurs, but Michael has gone missing two weeks prior to the murder, and Sinclair fears the worst. Just when they’re convinced that finding Michael will solve the crime and prevent further violence, he is found dead in the Hudson River—a victim of foul play. According to an autopsy, he was dead before Sarah’s murder was committed. Simon struggles with what he feels are Sinclair’s unorthodox methods, and Sinclair will do anything to preserve his work at the university.
Written in the first person, this novel clips along at a steady pace. Ms. Pintoff received the Mystery Writers of American/Minotaur Books Best First Crime Novel Award for her work.