By Ellen Horan
From the back of the book:
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 manages 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.
Just my opinion:
This is perhaps one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in a long time. It is so well-written and the research is so extensive, you just can’t help but bury yourself into the pages and become a part of the tale yourself.
The story revolves around a defense attorney who takes on the case of a woman who he believes is wrongly accused of murdering a prominent dentist in New York. The writing goes back and forth in time as we learn about how the woman met the victim and how their relationship developed and the events following the crime. We are also taken back and forth between New York and New Jersey, where the sale of some swamplands are being negotiated for future development, which also plays into the crime.
What I found so very interesting was the way the legal system worked in the mid-1800s. Only men served on juries, the suspects were sequestered to their home under house arrest, the newspapers were used to interview the witnesses for the prosecuting team and members of the jury took part in the investigation. Really very intriguing and so different from how these events would have taken place today.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as well as some of the extras found at the back, such as an interview with the author and some true life facts about the characters in the story. I really hope you will read this one … it’s well worth your time.
Some favorite passages from the book:
If the roof fails, we’ll live under the stars.
The city split away as the river opened into the wide mouth of the harbor, swelling like an upturned silver dish.
The room was deadly quiet, and yet it was a ballet of anticipation.