The final installment in Lyndsay Faye’s Timothy Wilde series, which Lee Child called “solid-gold” and Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular.”
No one in 1840s New York likes fires, copper star Timothy Wilde least of all. After a blaze killed his parents and another left him with a terrible scar, he has avoided flames of all kinds. So when a seamstress turned arsonist threatens Robert Symmes, a corrupt tycoon high in the Tammany Hall ranks, Timothy isn’t thrilled that Symmes consults him. His dismay escalates when his audacious and charismatic older brother, Valentine, himself deeply politically entrenched, decides to run against the incumbent, who they suspect is guilty of assault and far darker crimes. Immediately after his brother’s courageous declaration, Timothy finds himself surrounded by powerful enemies who threaten to harm those he cares about most.
Meanwhile, the love of Timothy’s life, Mercy Underhill, unexpectedly appears on his doorstep and takes under her wing a starving Irish orphan who may be the key to stopping the combustions threatening the city—if only they can make sense of her cryptic accounts. The closer they come to deciphering her wild tales of witches and angels, however, the closer Timothy comes to the fiery and shocking conclusion that forces him to face everything he fears most.
A boisterous and suspenseful book from a master of historical adventure, The Fatal Flame is a tale for the ages.
A serial arsonist terrorizes New York City in Edgar-finalist Faye's superior third historical featuring Timothy Wilde (after 2013's Seven for a Secret). In the spring of 1848, Robert Symmes, a Tammany Hall politician, meets with Wilde, one of the city's police officers known as copper stars, and Wilde's police-captain brother, Valentine, at the Queen Mab, a Manhattan brothel. Symmes needs their help. An advocate for more humane treatment of the city's female workers has thrown a note through the alderman's window threatening that things will burn if conditions don't improve. One of the slum buildings that Symmes owns is soon gutted by fire. Wilde's investigation is complicated by the reappearance of a lost love and Valentine's decision to oppose Symmes in an upcoming election. As in her previous books, Faye's diligence in researching the period is manifest, and readers will feel transported back to mid-19th-century Manhattan. The whodunit aspect is compelling, but Faye is equally adept in incorporating the women's rights movement of the time and attitudes toward the mentally ill into the story line.
Another fabulous story
I'm sad this is the last of the Timothy Wilde, I hope this trilogy expands. Another spellbinding story in pre-Civil War New York City. The language, politics, and poverty of the city are fascinating and I love the characters Lyndsay Faye created. Another highly recommended book.