As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

31 Bond Street - Ellen Horan

Book: 31 Bond Street
Author: Ellen Horan
Hardback: 368 Pages
Publisher: Harpercollins
Published Date: 3-30-2010

Awhile back I was asked to join the TLC Book Tour for 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan: A Novel of Murder, Innocence, and Power in New York City.  I love historical fiction and I have a specific fondness for the 19th Century so I thought why not?  I'm not sure if it's was because recently I've been Netflixing the series Bones (forensic anthropology helps solve murders) or what, but I totally absorbed this book in just a couple of days.

Here's the story:

The setting is 1857 in New York City.  A real crime happened: a dentist, Dr. Burdell, was found gruesomely murdered in his home. The main suspect is a young widowed lady, Emma Cunningham, with a couple of daughters who lives with him (as a tenant) and claims to be his wife.  Suspicion is out whether or not they were married and if she murdered him.  A brilliant defense attorney, Henry Clinton, puts his career at stake defending her of this crime.

I thought this story was absolutely fascinating.  The story is told from various perspectives, mainly flipping from Henry Clinton's point of view as the trial proceeds, to Emma Cunnigham's view as she meets the Dr. Burdell and the events leading up to his death.  Sometimes I can figure out in a crime book who the culprit is, but in this case I had absolutely no clue.  Since this was a real life murder, I also refrained from looking it up on Wikipedia as I sometimes end up doing.  I know Ellen Horan had to employ creative license while writing the fictional parts but I thought she did a fabulous job doing a "what if" to this real life crime story.

I just have to mention that I loved the book's setting in NewYork City.  In her acknowledgements and explanations at the end of the book, she mentions that New York City was definitely a character in the book.  I loved seeing the city from this historic perspective - before the high rises, before the Civil War and abolition of slavery, and before women's rights.  Even the forensics I thought was interesting, like how they knew back then it had to be a left handed person.  I especially thought it was bizarre when they mentioned the crime scene was painted, not photographed.  This was before photography was used in a crime scene.  I just thought she did a wonderful job bringing this era and old New York City to life.

I visited the website for 31 Bond Street and found this cool book trailer:

Ellen Horan previously worked as a freelance photo editor for magazines and books in New York City.  She has a background in painting and visual art.  31 Bond Street is her first novel.

Connect with Ellen:

On her Website

On her Facebook

On Twitter

Ellen Horan's TLC Book Tour Stops:

Tuesday, July 6th: Word Lily

Wednesday, July 7th: Rundpinne

Thursday, July 8th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty

Monday, July 12th: Simply Stacie

Tuesday, July 13th: Novel Whore

Wednesday, July 14th: Ask Miss A

Thursday, July 15th: Life and Times of a "New" New Yorker

Monday, July 19th: The 3 R's Blog

Tuesday, July 20th: Scraps of Life

Wednesday, July 21st: A Few More Pages

Thursday, July 22nd: Novel Whore- Gabriella

Friday, July 23rd: Starting Fresh

Monday, July 26th: Caribousmom

Tuesday, July 27th: The Tome Traveller

Wednesday, July 28th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!!!

Thursday, July 29th: Bibliofreak

Monday, August 2nd: A Bookworm's World

Tuesday, August 3rd: Jen's Book Thoughts


  1. I would also like the period in which this book was set - it will be different reading for me. Let me try to find this book!

  2. I never thought about a crime scene having to be painted in the days before photography.. that is fascinating. Great review! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. Thanks so much for being on the tour.

  3. I've watched a few episodes of Bones (and the Christmas one a couple of times for some reason) but I haven't sat down and watched all of them yet. The books the show is based on are on one of my reading lists somewhere...

    Maybe it's the time period it's set in but something about the way you described this reminds me of Caleb Carr's The Alienist.

  4. Thanks for including my book on your blog! Cheers, Ellen

  5. I really enjoyed the book too, and was really attached to the character of the errand boy. I loved how the author tried to include so many characters. My review is up here.

  6. This looks fantastic. And I love the idea of NYC as a character.

  7. Glad u liked this one Amanda. I have it (unread as of yet).

    Have is life in NV since moving from NYC? Hope u r happy.


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