The story opens in 1870’s New York City, where recent immigrant Georg Geiermeier, awakens in a stable where he works for P.T. Barnum’s American Museum. The smell of smoke and the sounds of frightened animals is enough for Georg to realize that his life is in danger. Soon enough, he realizes that he is in more trouble than he thought, because he is not only being framed for the fire that ends his employment – someone has set him up on a murder charge.
What follows is an interesting and suspenseful journey where our young man gets mixed up with one of the gangs of the 5 Points. Georg’s name and identity changes from German immigrant to the newly landed Irishman, Frank Harris, and he seeks to win the love of a female gang member, while avoiding the man who seeks to kill him.
I enjoyed Gaffney’s foray into the sewers and up into the heights of the Brooklyn Bridge, as Harris becomes one of the workers who help to build it. What I did not enjoy was the author’s agendas, which distracted from the story. Her attempts to introduce history and opinions about women’s and race issues were too influenced by the 21st century to be wholly believable.
2 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2005