31 Bond Street
By Ellen Horan
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061773976, 384pp.)
Publication Date: March 2011
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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 fictionreimagining 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 obstaclea 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.
Ellen Horan has worked as a studio artist and as a photo editor for magazines and books in New York City. She lives in downtown Manhattan, the setting of her first novel.
- The book is named after the house at 31 Bond Street. In what way is the story built around this house? This was the era of the townhouse and the importance of its layout and configurations at the time plays a big role in the book. How does the house define the roles of the characters? How important is the layout of the house, the alleys, the privies, back lots, stables, cobblestones, etc.? How does the house evolve and change during the events of the novel?
“31 BOND STREET is an impressive blend of imagination and history as it vividly brings to life one of New York’s City’s most notorious crimes. Ellen Horan has written a novel that, once begun, will be difficult for any reader to put down.”
-Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
“Horan brings to life a sensational 19th-century New York City murder trial in which a woman is accused of viciously killing her husband. . . . An engaging mix of fact and fiction, with a juicy trial, sensationalistic reporters, and lots of local urban color.”
“This thrilling book becomes not only a murder mystery, but a Wharton-esque examination of the mores and customs of antebellum New York society. . . . Rich with historical detail, 31 BOND STREET is one of the best debut novels in a long while.”