The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye

‘The Fatal Flame’ is Lyndsay Fate’s 3rd book featuring Timothy Wilde. Wilde is a New York copper star. It is the 1840s, the NYPD is in its infancy and Timothy Wilde is its first detective. I’ve just found out that this is a trilogy rather than an ongoing series and I’m going to miss Timothy and the other regular characters. The first two equally brilliant books in the trilogy are ‘The Gods of Gotham’ and ‘Seven for a Secret’.

New York in 1848 was a dangerous place. Immigrants were flooding in, partly due to the potato famine in Ireland. New York could not cope with the influx in the provision of housing, work and food. But the rich and unscrupulous continued to get richer.

The book opens with Timothy Wilde arresting a man who is taking young Irish immigrant girls straight off the boat then selling them to brothels.

The life of women at the time was incredibly difficult. They either married or struggled to survive. They were paid much less for the same jobs but were still resented for taking jobs away from men.

In the midst of the chaos that is New York, there is an arsonist on the loose. Timothy Wilde sets out to track down the arsonist before too many are killed in the overcrowded old buildings that are being targeted.

Meanwhile Timothy’s brother Valentine who has always been interested in politics, decides to stand against the ruthless, powerful and corrupt alderman Robert Symmes.

The story also tracks the lives of many of the characters from the previous two books – the love of Timothy’s life Mercy Underhill has returned to New York, but her return is tinged with sadness. We also see much more of Timothy’s landlady Elena Boehm and orphan Bird Daly and we get to know Jim Playfair much better. We even see a more human side to the ruthless madam Silkie Marsh.

The atmosphere of New York in the 1840s was brilliantly done although at times I found flash (the slang of the time) difficult to follow.

I’m sad to see the end of a series whose characters I have grown to love, but I have every confidence that Lyndsay Faye’s next book will be equally good.

I’ve absorbed a lot of history during this series. I loved the antics of election day New York 1840s style. Thanks to this book, I was able to laugh when I heard FIFA (the world soccer association) compared to the pork barrelling days of Tammany Hall.


Book Published 2015


See a full list of books by Lyndsay Faye

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Filed under Book Reviews, Crime, Detective, Faye, Lyndsay, Historical, Series Fiction, Thriller

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