TITLE: IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM
AUTHOR: STEFANIE PINTOFF
Details: no. 1 Simon Ziele
After suffering a personal tragedy in 1905, Detective Simon Ziele has transferred from New York City to a country town north of Manhattan where he expects his life and work to be less violent.
Within months of starting his new position he has to reassess this assumption when he’s called to the scene of a brutal murder. A young girl has been killed and severely beaten in her own bedroom. Nobody appears to have seen anything and Ziele and his boss appear to be facing an impossible investigation.
The following day Ziele is approached by Professor Alistair Sinclair, a criminologist, who claims to know who killed the girl. He suspects a young man he has been observing and researching, a young man with violent fantasies which closely mirror the scene Ziele confronted in the bedroom. However, Sinclair has lost track of his study object some time earlier, and now the hunt is on to find this dangerous man before he has a chance to act out his fantasies again. That is of course, provided Sinclair’s man actually committed the murder…
This was a good mystery and a very interesting setting. Criminology and profiling are in their very early stages and still facing a lot of suspicions and scepticism by most involved in law-enforcement, a view also held by Ziele who, although intrigued by the professor and his studies and theories, firmly believes that old fashioned detecting and looking for concrete proof and motives should be the main basis for any investigation.
This story strikes the right balance between murder, investigation, personal stories and historical description. The characters are realistic and interesting and the solution makes sense and provided a satisfactory ending to an intriguing story. The only, minor, complaint I have is that I had the murderer pinpointed the moment he was introduced into the story.
I’ll be looking for further books by Pintoff. This was her first published work and as such shows a lot of promise for what may follow.