Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ellen Horan/31 BOND STREET

A fictionalized account of a sensational murder trial from the 1800's. Emma Cunningham is a young window whose precarious finances prompt her to rent rooms from a wealthy dentist and land speculator, Harvey Burdell. When Burdell is murdered in their home at 31 Bond Street, Emma becomes the prime suspect. Was Burdell murdered by the desperate widow who discovered he was taking advantage of what little money she had left? Or should the blame fall to one of the many businessmen Burdell swindled? What about his servant--and witness to his accumlating wealth-- who is now nowhere to be found?

The story races along, shifting between the developments of the trial and revelations about the events leading up to it. It kept me in suspense right up to the end--where I discovered that while the outcome of the trial is revealed, the truth about the murder never is. I found it disappointing not to receive a definitive--if fictional--answer to the story's main riddle: who killed Harvey Burdell? Still, the many surprising revelations and the illustrations of intriguing historical figures make this book worth reading.

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