Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Tour and Review: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

Thanks so much to Lisa from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour.  Here is a summary of 31 Bond Street from the Harper Collins website:

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?

Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.

Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.

My Review:
31 Bond Street is an intriguing mystery that opens after a murder has taken place.  Harvey Burdell is a New York dentist that is found by his young servant boy John, after he is brutally murdered.  We are given the events from the last year throughout this novel that give us clues as to how Harvey could have met his demise.

When the police and coroner arrive at the scene of the crime we are introduced to Emma Cunningham.  At first glance Emma appears to be the woman in charge of the Burdell household, making sure that daily operations run smoothly.  But after further investigation it appears that there may have been an intimate relationship between Burdell and Cunningham, possibly even a marriage?  Although I really did not like the character of Emma, by the end of the book I found her to be a strong woman that needed to do what was necessary to protect the interests of herself and her daughters.

I found the legal process and the investigation from this period of time to be the most interesting part of the book for me.  When the coroner arrived at the Burdell residence he basically took control of the crime scene and held Emma Cunningham prisoner in the home for weeks as he conducted his investigation.  Emma somehow was able to get a message out to a lawyer, and that is how we are introduced to Henry Clinton, who happens to be a lawyer working for a high-profile law firm in New York.  Henry finds himself putting everything on the line in order to represent Emma, in hopes that it will pay off for him in the future.

Besides being a dentist, we learn that Burdell had many other financial transactions in the works.  He purchased and sold land that wasn't necessarily on the up and up, which put him in the midst of transactions that turned out to be managed by politicians that are trying to put a hault to the progress being made by the underground railroads.  As the coroner is focusing on Emma Cunningham as a suspect, it seems that Burdell's illegal transactions may be overlooked.

This was an interesting story that was full of history about the law, politics, and the underground railroad.  It was also a good mystery as bits and pieces are revealed in a way that kept me from putting this book down.  I felt that I really didn't get a chance to know the characters well, so that was really the only downfall for me with this book, as I really enjoyed the writing.  So if you are looking for a good mystery with a glimpse of what the legal system was like during this time period I think you would really enjoy this book.  If you are intersted in finding out more about Ellen Horan or 31 Bond Street I suggest that you go to the 31 Bond Street website.  And while you are there you can check out the Cast the Movie contest that Ellen Horan is running until August 31st.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review to participate in the TLC Blog tour.


bermudaonion said...

The history in this one does sound fascinating to me!

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

Sounds good :)

Ellen Horan said...

Thanks for adding my book to review, great blog! Ellen