review by Maryom
New York, 1846; Timothy Wilde, a 'copper star' in the newly formed New York police force, is drawn into a maze of almost unbelievable greed and corruption when Lucy Adams reports her family missing. For they haven't merely disappeared but been taken by 'blackbirders', slave traders who not only track down missing slaves from the Southern States but also abduct free black people of the North and ship them south to slavery. The system of justice in place offers virtually no protection to these people, so how can Timothy help them?
Seven for a Secret is an excellent historical crime story which brings the disreputable side of mid-1840s New York fascinatingly to life. It has an excellent twist and turn plot, supported by lots of historical detail about slave-traders, abolitionists and everyday New York life, which informs the reader without clogging up the story line. I definitely came away with a new insight into attitudes towards the culture of slave-owning and exploitation.Timothy himself, for a hard-nosed street cop, seemed a little naive about the realities of his world, but I suppose this helps in explaining things to the reader.
I only had one hassle with it - I really struggled with the writing style. The story is told in the first person from Timothy Wilde's viewpoint and in the (presumed) style of the period which I found hard-work and cumbersome; it wasn't the scattering of 'flash' slang - most of that makes sense in context and for the bits that don't, there's a glossary, but the overall delivery. I expected to get used to it but didn't, finding it as heavy going at the end as at the start. Otherwise I found it an excellent historical crime novel.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Headline
Genre - Adult historical crime thriller, slavery
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