Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Review: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

Author: Ellen Horan

About the book from Harper Collins:

Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell in his opulent Manhattan town house? 

At once a gripping mystery and a richly detailed excavation of a lost age, 31 Bond Street is a spellbinding tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics in 1857 New York. Author Ellen Horan interweaves fact and fiction—reimagining the sensational nineteenth-century crime that rocked the city a few short years before the Civil War ripped through the fabric of the nation, while transporting readers back to a time that eerily echoes our own. 

Though there are no clues to the brutal slaying of wealthy Dr. Burdell, suspicion quickly falls on Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed his house and servants. An ambitious district attorney seeks a swift conviction, but defense attorney Henry Clinton is a formidable obstacle—a man firmly committed to justice and the law, and to the cause of a frightened, vulnerable woman desperately trying to save herself from the gallows.

My Thoughts:

31 Bond Street is a gripping debut historical  mystery novel. What I found fascinating is that Ellen Horan, based the novel on a true crime story, of a brutal murder of a despicable man, a desperate mother and house mistress all set in the backdrop of society in  New York City in the late 1800's.  A wealthy doctor is murdered and suspicion immediately falls on Emma, a woman who is known as a widow and  mother who is his house mistress.  Politics and greed set in as the district attorney seeks to take control and hopes to convict Emma. Fortunately, Emma reaches out to Clinton, a strong defense attorney who has integrity and commitment to following justice and the law. As a reader you are taken through this story mainly from the points of view of Emma and Clinton, before and after the trial that ensues. 31 Bond Street is richly layered in details of the events, characters and weaves a strong story that involves, murder, greed, politics, slavery, child labor and so much more.  The clues are there to find as a reader and I enjoyed the process of the trial and subsequent piecing together of the story to it's final conclusion. I highly recommend 31 Bond Street for those who enjoy historical fiction and mysteries. This would be an excellent book to discuss with a book club as well. There is an interview with the author at the back of the book as well as information on the actual murder trial and how the author came to write the book.

Check out Ellen Horan's Guest Blog in which she shared share what helped the characters from 31 Bond Street come alive after she had done all the research.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours  for providing me an opportunity to be part of the book tour for 31 Bond Street and to Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the trade paperback for review. 


  1. The fact that the book is based on a real crime intrigues me.

  2. Murder isn't something I usually like reading about, but this one does sound intriguing.

  3. I've read books that are similar to this one and really enjoyed them, so I'll definitely give this one a shot.

    Thanks for being on the tour - so glad you enjoyed the book!

  4. Holey schmoley! This looks superb!!

  5. I am interested in this one big time. I like that it was based on an actual murder!!

  6. Thank you, Bonnie for choosing the book to review, and for inviting me to guest post. It's such a pleasure to meet readers and bloggers this way! Ellen


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