Thursday, July 08, 2010

Review: 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

She tried to summon her best composure but her expression changed like a cloud movement: flashes of red emerged in sudden streaks across her face, and tears began coursing along her cheeks. her countenance betrayed such anxiety that Connery eyed her closely. His instinct told him to remain still--emotional moments like these were often followed by a confession. [pg. 15]

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
Harper Collins, 2010
Crime Fiction; 352 pgs

When Dr. Harvey Burdell, a New York dentist, is found brutally murdered in his own home, behind locked doors, suspicion immediately falls on those in the household, particularly Emma Cunningham whose sudden production of a secret marriage certificate between her and the doctor two weeks before the murder raises eyebrows and puts her innocence in doubt. Emma is a woman who is desperate to hang onto the last vestige of her social status, both for her daughters' sake as well as her own. She is near broke and facing eviction when she first meets Dr. Burdell. Dr. Burdell seems like a gentleman through and through. Only, he isn't nearly as perfect as he seems. As the investigation into his murder unfolds, it becomes clear that Dr. Burdell had many secrets and just as many enemies.

With the media, public opinion, and the ambitious district attorney, Abraham Oakley Hall, already poised to hang Emma, Henry Clinton steps in to defend her. He puts his own career on the line to do so.

Ellen Horan's novel, 31 Bond Street, is lush with detail. The mystery is tightly woven, at times intense, and always interesting. The story went in several unexpected directions. I had my theories, but nothing was quite as simple as it seemed. The narrative follows events as they unfold from the moment the body is discovered and is interspersed with flashbacks to the months before the murder, offering insight into the characters lives and motivations. New York was a character of its own: the bustling streets, the spreading out of a city, the back alleys and the upper class neighborhoods. I felt as if I was right there in the middle of the events as they transpired.

I hadn't realized when I first began reading 31 Bond Street that it was based on a true crime that took place in 1875 New York. In a way, I'm glad I didn't know as I might have been tempted to run and look up the story before finishing the novel. While that isn't always a bad thing, I've found, this is one book I preferred to go into blind. I look forward to reading more by Ellen Horan in the future.

Ratings: * (Very Good)

You can learn more about Ellen Horan and her book on the author's website. Be sure and check the TLC Book Tours website as well for other tour dates and links to reviews.

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. Book for review provided by the publisher.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I really think it makes so more interesting if you know the story is true. I'm ten times more likely to become invested in the story. Then of course afterwards I can Google it. Nice review Wendy!

  2. i'm not one to read books with murder as a rule, however your review is stellar. I believe this one will be an exception. I have added to my wishlist.

  3. Glad to see such a positive review. I've been meaning to read this one, and now I am more motivated. Thanks Wendy

  4. I love it when it's based on a true story and you didn't realize until the end...this one sounds fascinating and worth picking up!

  5. Sounds like a good one. I'm divided when it comes to knowing it's a true story beforehand or not. I think it makes it more interesting, but like you, I'd be tempted to look it up and see what happens, which might end up ruining the book.

  6. Very nice review, Wendy! I think this sounds like a wonderful book and I had thought about joining the tour as well. In the end, I didn't because I wasn't sure I would enjoy it, but after reading your review, I am sure I made the wrong choice!!

  7. This one is right up my alley. I'll have to restrain myself from looking up the true story it is based on. I'll save that for AFTER I've read the book!

  8. Nice review, Wendy. I'm looking forward to reading this one in the future. Love a book where the setting is so vivid.

  9. I like the sound of this one; sounds like a good historical mystery. I'll look for Ellen Horan next library visit!

  10. I love novels that are based on true stories and this one sounds like it's so well written.

  11. I love it when I can't predict what will happen, and this sounds like one for my wishlist.

  12. True crime, when well written, makes for exciting (and scary) reading.

  13. Sandy - Yes, knowing a story is true ahead of time can make it more interesting. I'm glad in this case though that I didn't know.

    Wisteria - I hope you will enjoy it if you do read it, Donna!

    Diane - I love historical mysteries. Sometimes I forget that though and it takes a good one like this to remind me just how much.

    Staci - It definitely was a nice surprise!

    Anna - Especially when it's a mystery. I'd hate to have the mystery spoiled for me too soon, particularly if I don't know how it will turn out.

    Heather - Thank you! I have passed on tours I regret saying no to later too. You'll still get your chance to read it though at some point, I'm sure. :-)

  14. Kathleen - I think you'd like this one, Kathleen. I do hope you get a chance to read it.

    Kay - Thanks! I do too! It's an especially good book when the setting is brought to life.

    Jenclair - I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one, Jenclair, especially given how much you enjoy historical mysteries.

    Kathy - It really is well-written. I had such fun reading this one.

    Christine - It happens so rarely that an ending of a mystery completely surprises me anymore. It's a real treat when it does happen.

    Beth - It certainly does! This particular book is only loosely based on the actual events of the time, but it still is quite exciting.

  15. I echo Sandy! I was going to say something very similar to hers. Thanks for the review!

  16. Great review. I didn't know that this was based on a true story either but I've been debating on picking this book up. I think it sounds great.

  17. Great review, Wendy! I'm so happy you enjoyed the book and love the way you described it as "lush with detail".. that is my kind of read..

    Thanks so much for being on the tour!! We really appreciate it!

  18. Wendy, so happy to see my book featured on your blog! Thanks for reading and reviewing. Best Ellen

  19. Alice - I hope you will give this one a try!

    Darlene - I really enjoyed it, Darlene. I think you would too.

    Lisa - Thanks, Lisa!

    Ellen - It was my pleasure! I truly enjoyed 31 Bond Street and look forward to reading more by you in the future.


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