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*Starred Review* Scandal, social climbing, and corruption in Manhattan during the 1850s come alive in Horan’s historical mystery. Emma Cunningham, a widow with two teenage daughters, becomes financially and emotionally involved with Harvey Burdell, a wealthy dentist and land speculator. Without witnesses, he is murdered brutally in their Bond Street townhouse, and Cunningham is accused of the crime. An ambitious lawyer, Henry Clinton, risks his reputation and livelihood to defend her and solve the crime. Meanwhile, Horan describes living conditions in mid-nineteenth-century Manhattan: government corruption is rampant, Tammany Hall is coming to power, the Fugitive Slave Acts threaten to undo the work of the Underground Railroad, and poverty and wealth run equally rampant. Horan’s characters, like Edith Wharton’s, are motivated by social class and survival in a world ruled by wealth and national uncertainty. This unique look at history and the private lives of those affected by it makes for captivating reading. --Heather Paulson
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ISBN-10:  0061773964
ISBN-13:  978-0061773969
Author:  Ellen Horan
Publisher:  Harper
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review by . October 13, 2010
Splendid entertainment set in historic NYC
I love books that are set in old New York City and this one, based on an actual historical event, doesn't disappoint. It's the story of Emma Cunningham, a widow with two daughters who is pressed for money and struggling to hang on to her place in middle class, "respectable" society. The year is 1857, right before the Civil War, and like other women of her time and class, Emma is severely restricted by the social customs -- not to mention the laws -- of the day. If she is not able …
review by . June 14, 2010
The 1850's. Manhattan's elite are only just setting out to make 5th Avenue their enclave. The rest of the population is simply trying to earn a living. Displaced Native Americans, runaway or freed slaves, and unmarried women are particularly vulnerable to the twists and turns of fortune. Emma Cunningham, mother of two adolescent daughters, is desperately searching for a man to replace their now deceased father. Emma believes she has found him in prosperous dentist Harvey Burdell, who wines and dines …
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