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31 Bond Street

31 Bond Street - Ellen Horan With 31 Bond Street, Ms. Horan presents the reader with historical fiction at its finest. It is a story that is quite literally "ripped from the headlines", with those headlines first printed in the 1850s. A real-life murder mystery, Ms. Horan does an excellent job of filling in the blanks, imagining the story behind the headlines and fleshing out characters that have long since been forgotten. Through her skill, the reader gets the pleasure of enjoying a well-written of literary fiction with enough fact interspersed to make the story truly compelling.The story unfolds methodically, switching narrators to allow new evidence to come to light. As a result, the reader never gets the chance to understand the full story until late in the novel, at which point in time the reader has become fully absorbed in the story. This switching of narrators, the back and forth battle for information, and the methodical "follow the evidence" approach to solving the mystery enhances the power of perception, which in turn leaves the reader waffling back and forth in one's sympathies for the various characters. Enhancing the overall story is the addition of photographs of the real headlines from the actual murder. This drives home the fact that this is one story in which the historical aspect of the story outweighs the fiction. Ms. Horan does an excellent job of bringing to live long-dead characters - Henry vs. Harvey, Elisabeth vs. Emma. Her descriptions are breath-taking and exact, allowing the reader to clearly understand what it was like to live in 1850s New York. The political undertone behind the murder itself remind the reader the tension that existed before the Civil War erupted. These all combine to create characters that pull a reader's sympathies in various directions, rooting for one character versus another. Emotional involvement is always the hallmark of a well-written book, and 31 Bond Street meets that mark.One of the most appealing aspects of the story are the questions remaining at the end. Did Emma, and all of the characters, get their just rewards for their actions? Where did each character go wrong? Could this entire situation have been avoided under similar circumstances? Ms. Horan could easily have addressed some of these questions in her novel but rather leaves them for the reader to ponder. As with the emotional involvement, this is an added benefit that enhances the entire novel. Murder, mystery, intrigue, politics, a lush backdrop and rich setting combine to create an amazingly vivid, compelling novel. However, 31 Bond Street is not just for historical fiction lovers. Its study of criminal investigations and pre-Civil War detective work makes it a novel for fans of detective and suspense stories. Its mass appeal will make 31 Bond Street a story for the summer and beyond.