Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jewish Poet Emma Lazarus Murdered. Nellie Bly Hot on Killer's Heels.

The New Colossus
In this historical novel we meet the legendary Nellie Bly, lady reporter/investigator who infiltrated the Bellevue mental hospital by actually entering as a patient herself. Only the first part of the story touches on this, briefly, however, showing us how it was the start of her investigative journalism career. She'd been mostly confined to the gardening section until then, women having a hard time getting into journalism back then.

We watch her earn the grudging respect of many male coworkers as she tries to solve a case: who killed Emma Lazarus and why.

This ended up being a mystery with Nellie Bly as the sleuth. Emma Lazarus was a real woman. She was a Jewish poet who wrote The New Colossus, the poem on the Statue of Liberty. This was interesting to me. Upon further online research, I discover there were indeed some rumors she was a lesbian and she was very outspoken about the hatred and discrimination toward Jews. I think some license was taken with this story as none of the biographies I read mentioned any hint of foul play regarding her death, but in this novel, obviously, she's murdered.

As Nellie investigates, she discovers lesbian love affairs, railroad tycoons with greedy intentions and murder on "their" hands, the wrongful deaths of an Indian tribe, and a family who would rather let a murderer run loose than having more "scandal" on their hands.

They mystery is interesting and keeps one guessing. The author managed to reveal all kinds of historical things I never heard of before--both people and events.

The ending is really far fetched though, IMO. How Nellie came to her conclusion and the the proof she had was really thin. I didn't really buy it all, her suddenly figuring out whodunnit in the manner she did. It was too much of a stretch. To be Frank, the ending stank. I almost brought this down to a two. I don't need a cheesy HEA, but this was an awful ending. The narrative is omnipresent, God-like, and makes the book more telling than showing at times and reads like a biography in bits. The story also strays a lot and divulges all kinds of details and history about the characters that becomes overwhelming after a while. I already cannot remember half of it. It's distracting.

I thought at first this was a start to a series featuring Nellie Bly: lady reporter solving a new mystery each novel, but the terrible ending kind of nipped that hunch of mine in the bud.

So this wasn't a winner for me, but it wasn't a dud either. It's somewhere in between.

I received this via Netgalley.


  1. Tara, there is a mystery series in which the detective is Nellie Bly by Carol McCleary.

    1. Oh! Now that you mention it, I remember running across it on Amazon once. I was deterred by so many bad reviews. Have you read them yourself? Maybe I should just try them regardless.

    2. No, I haven't read them. The reviews are indeed terrible.