Stefanie Pintoff's debut novel was both a fantastic historical fiction and a compelling detective story.
It's 1905, and Detective Simon Ziele has moved out to the New York City suburbs after his fiancee perishes in the General Slocum disaster (that detail being what hooked me on the book in the first place, since that wreck is one I was very interested during my maritime disaster phase). He expects the life of a small-town policeman to be fairly quiet, but it isn't long before a horrific murder drops into his lap. The victim seems to have had many enemies, but none with a hatred violent enough to result in bloody homicide. Ziele is at a loss until Professor Alistair Sinclair shows up--Sinclair has been pioneering a field of criminal psychology at Columbia, and he thinks one of his test subjects might be the man the police are looking for...the only problem is finding him.
Ziele and Sinclair wind their way through the neighborhoods of old New York, coming into contact with every strata of society, from the mayor all the way down to local drunks and hoods in the search for the murderer.
This book was awesome -- I really enjoyed the character of Ziele very much, and found him quite sympathetic and believable. I also appreciated Alistair Sinclair's daughter-in-law Isabella, who was a much-needed female presence, and painted as a smart, independent young woman. The mystery wasn't obvious, and while I had my suspicions, I didn't know for sure who had done it until the reveal. I also enjoyed the historical context (though on occasion it did feel a tiny bit "OH HERE IS A THING THAT HAPPENED IN NEW YORK IN 1905 THAT WE JUST HAPPEN TO MENTION CASUALLY READER, DO APPRECIATE OUR HISTORICAL CONTEXT!" for the most part it was well done).
I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or detective thrillers. I can't wait to get my hands on the second and third books in the series.