A Curtain Falls by Stephanie Pintoff is her latest starring New York City detective Simon Ziele and provides another chilling ride back in time to New York City in the 1900s. In A Curtain Falls we find ourselves in 1904. Broadway is controlled by a few theater magnates, including the Schubert brothers and Charles Frohman (who created stars including John drew, Maude Adams, and Ethel Barrymore). When a chorus girl is found dead on one of Frohman’s stages, Ziele is brought in by his old partner, Captain Declan Mulvaney to help out with the investigation. Ziele in turn brings in an expert in the criminal mind, Professor Alistair Sinclair.
Weaving a complicated but delicious plot in and around facts and fables of old New York, Pintoff offers a great mystery as well as a compelling history. I am currently enthralled with the early 1900s (an interest spurred by my discovery of a family collection of letters from that time) and Pintoff does a great job painting in the details of the era, specifically for New York City with its cacophony of street life and the peace of the bucolic Central Park; its political underbelly of corruption existing alongside a high society obsessed with appearances and precedents; and the always pulsing beat of immigration, migration, and anticipation.