The Fatal Flame

The Fatal Flame

The final installment in Lyndsay Faye’s Timothy Wilde series, which Lee Child called “solid-gold” and Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular.” No one in 1840s New York likes fires, copper star Timothy Wilde least of all. After a blaze killed his parents and another left him with a terrible scar, he has avoided flames of all kinds. So when a seamstress turned arsonist...

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Title:The Fatal Flame
Author:Lyndsay Faye
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Edition Language:English

The Fatal Flame Reviews

  • Matt

    If

    turns out to be the final installment in the Timothy Wilde series (and I have on good report that it is), Lyndsay Faye has saved the best for last and delivered a dynamic, enormously satisfying conclusion. If you’ve read

    and

    , you’re going to want to run to get

    (out 5/12/15). If you haven’t, and you’re a fan of literary mysteries, historical fiction or just well-written hero stories that immerse you in another world, then what

    If

    turns out to be the final installment in the Timothy Wilde series (and I have on good report that it is), Lyndsay Faye has saved the best for last and delivered a dynamic, enormously satisfying conclusion. If you’ve read

    and

    , you’re going to want to run to get

    (out 5/12/15). If you haven’t, and you’re a fan of literary mysteries, historical fiction or just well-written hero stories that immerse you in another world, then what the hell have you been doing? Go get

    immediately! You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it and

    before you can get to

    .

    As with the first two Timothy Wilde installments, Faye crafts a complex, propulsive central mystery that keeps you guessing until the final reveal. Even as the “who” (the arsonist or arsonist

    who committed the titular “fatal flame”) comes into focus, the “why” is a rewarding surprise. Faye again crafts a twisty, well-paced mystery and, most importantly, plays fair with the reader. While the turns are unexpected, Faye never cheats: the clues and motivations are slyly seeded throughout and pay off when “copper star” Timothy Wilde puts them together for us.

    These are more than just good mysteries, however. Lyndsay Faye’s Wilde Trilogy transcends genre in two ways: in the elegance and impact of its historical setting and in the emotional richness of its world-building.

    When describing Faye’s work to the unfamiliar, I always make the point that she is a master of elegantly weaving rich historical detail and context into the story. She avoids the easy and all-too-familiar crutch of having Captain Exposition enter a scene to explain the background context and its significance in order to explain a character’s actions.

    Faye paints such an evocative picture of 1840’s New York City that we’re able to understand and feel the human-scale consequences of the culture and institutions that comprise the era. We get to understand what it means to be a woman at that time, where life options are essentially binary: marry or struggle not to starve to death. In previous books, Faye has focused on the plight of the Irish immigrant and the “freed” African American in that time. Works of historical fiction frequently have characters that play out and/or stand in as archetypes and symbols of a conflict of the period. Faye creates fully-fleshed characters that act within and outside the culture’s framework. These characters are humans, not symbols. This allows for complexity and results, in Faye’s hands, in true emotional payoffs.

    Throughout the three books, Faye populates the world of Timothy Wilde with complex, authentic, human-sized characters. The cumulative effect of this work pays off mightily in

    . Because each recurring character has been painted throughout the series with nuance and depth and

    , there are genuine, affecting emotional stakes on the line. There were a half-dozen times or more in

    where I caught myself tense and worried for the fates of different characters.

    Three-quarters of the way through the book, I was struck with the realization of just how

    characters in this world that was I deeply invested in—Bird Daly, Elena Boehm, Jacob Piest, Gentleman Jim Playfair, Valentine Wilde (of course), even the fantastically, singularly awful Silkie Marsh. I liken this deep bench of richly and precisely drawn characters to

    . It’s appropriately synchronous, I suppose, that

    , seemingly the final chapter of the Timothy Wilde story, hits shelves the same week as

    ’s series finale.

    is a terrific read and a tremendously satisfying conclusion to Timothy Wilde’s story. Despite the 30-degree weather, spring must have been in full bloom because my eyes watered throughout the last few pages.

    ’s final page is one of the loveliest endings to a book I can remember and thrills me to think what Lyndsay Faye has in store for us next. Whatever it is, I’ll be there.

  • Christin

    I got an ARC! A dubious honor when the result was my heart in my throat for the entirety of the 450 pages. I care way too much about too many of these people who put their darling little lives into too much danger. About midway through I was bargaining with my own feelings. Like "ok, Bird can go, Mercy can go, the bakery can burn down, I will deal but if ANYTHING happens to VAL I will incite a mighty riot."

    Like all good mysteries, I managed to keep up with the twists and turns, sometimes

    I got an ARC! A dubious honor when the result was my heart in my throat for the entirety of the 450 pages. I care way too much about too many of these people who put their darling little lives into too much danger. About midway through I was bargaining with my own feelings. Like "ok, Bird can go, Mercy can go, the bakery can burn down, I will deal but if ANYTHING happens to VAL I will incite a mighty riot."

    Like all good mysteries, I managed to keep up with the twists and turns, sometimes foolishly thinking I was ahead of the mystery. FOOLISH I SAY. There are twist to be had without coming out of left field, a very rewarding read, even with the elevated blood pressure.

  • Cherie

    Thank you, Lyndsay Faye, I can definitely tell you that Timothy Wilde was worth getting to know.

  • Book Addict Shaun

    I read The Fatal Flame in the midst of my Blue Bloods addiction, Blue Bloods being a rather enjoyable police series set in present day New York City and The Fatal Flame being a historical crime novel set in nineteenth-century New York City and focusing on copper star Timothy Wilde and the newly-formed NYPD. It was rather enjoyable to spend a little time comparing the two and what it really brought to light to me was just how beautifully Lyndsay Faye has researched this series. Not having read a

    I read The Fatal Flame in the midst of my Blue Bloods addiction, Blue Bloods being a rather enjoyable police series set in present day New York City and The Fatal Flame being a historical crime novel set in nineteenth-century New York City and focusing on copper star Timothy Wilde and the newly-formed NYPD. It was rather enjoyable to spend a little time comparing the two and what it really brought to light to me was just how beautifully Lyndsay Faye has researched this series. Not having read a lot of historical fiction there's nothing that I can personally compare it with, but it's just such an incredibly atmospheric read in places that you know Lyndsay has been meticulous in her research as well as being somebody who has a real passion for what she is writing.

    It's difficult to summarise what the book is about, especially for those who haven't yet read The Gods of Gotham or Seven for a Secret, something which I would definitely recommend doing if you are planning on picking up this book. Copper star Timothy Wilde once again finds himself caught up in another disturbing mystery. Somebody is setting fires on the streets of 1848 New York City, and Timothy must unravel a knot of revenge, murder and blackmail if he's to find out who is behind it all and stop them before the whole city goes up in flames... All while contending with issues of his own in regards to his personal life. Past events which we read about in the preceding books come to a head in The Fatal Flame and... I obviously cannot reveal anything further.

    I often find historical fiction books often teach you about a time that you might not know all that much about, but doing so in an inconspicuous way. I always say they should be used in History classes, it's certainly a more enjoyable way to take information in. I found myself - as with the previous two novels from Lyndsay - getting completely caught up in the story and the world created here, and spent a little time following the conclusion of this series online reading more about this time, and the formation of the NYPD, fascinating stuff in itself. Everything about The Fatal Flame is extremely authentic, especially in the dialogue and language used throughout, perhaps a little too authentic in places as I did find myself rereading some paragraphs.

    With the knowledge that The Fatal Flame was probably going to be the final book in this series, I felt that there was real scope for Lyndsay Faye to forgo that happy ever after, and having followed the characters, having my favourites - those I care about, those I like more than others - I really felt the danger that some of them faced, and had no idea just how Lyndsay would ultimately conclude the story. The mystery element throughout really is brilliantly done, and I imagine that a number of readers will not be able to put the puzzle back together. Nothing ever felt predictable, and the closing chapters in particular left me satisfied but at the same time saddened that we might not meet these characters again in the future. Lyndsay Faye is definitely an author to watch, and she has opened my eyes to a genre that in the past I have took not all that much notice of. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what Lyndsay Faye writes in the future.

  • Marina

    The Timothy Wilde trilogy concludes with The Fatal Flame and I can’t help but feel a little sad because I’m going to miss the world and it’s characters.

    Timothy seemed very distracted in this book, which made the mystery feel a little less cohesive that the previous two.

    Gender and politics make up the main crux of the story. We get to see the terrible mistreatment of immigrants - particularly women, the unfair conditions under which female factory workers must work, and the exploitation of poor

    The Timothy Wilde trilogy concludes with The Fatal Flame and I can’t help but feel a little sad because I’m going to miss the world and it’s characters.

    Timothy seemed very distracted in this book, which made the mystery feel a little less cohesive that the previous two.

    Gender and politics make up the main crux of the story. We get to see the terrible mistreatment of immigrants - particularly women, the unfair conditions under which female factory workers must work, and the exploitation of poor women who have nothing to sell but themselves. At times it was very hard to read and especially sad when you realize that a lot of the abuse still goes on today.

    The characters in this story felt a little far away. We don’t get to see as much of Bird, or even Mercy who shows up unexpectedly, I was particularly sad that Valentine was too busy campaigning for a city office. There was still plenty of bickering, but we also see the brothers finally admit - well Tim to admit that he doesn’t hate his bother as much as he likes to think.

    Overall, this was good finish to the series, but neither sequel was as good as Gods of Gotham. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the series and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes history and mysteries.

  • Albert

    The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye returns us to the world of 1840's New York City, Five Points, the birth of the Copper Stars and the graft and corruption of Tammany Hall. Young Copper Star Timothy Wilde must investigate the arson of a decrepit tenement building and the issuing death of two women but what he finds as he digs deeper is worse than the burning death of these two young women; far worse.

    No one hates fires more than Timothy Wilde. His parents consumed in a blaze. His own face horribly

    The Fatal Flame by Lyndsay Faye returns us to the world of 1840's New York City, Five Points, the birth of the Copper Stars and the graft and corruption of Tammany Hall. Young Copper Star Timothy Wilde must investigate the arson of a decrepit tenement building and the issuing death of two women but what he finds as he digs deeper is worse than the burning death of these two young women; far worse.

    No one hates fires more than Timothy Wilde. His parents consumed in a blaze. His own face horribly disfigured. So when a corrupt Tammany Hall Politician, Robert Symmes, is threatened by a disgruntled former employee and activist; Timothy is charged with catching the would be arsonist. What he finds out is that the vendetta goes much deeper than the burning down of a building. It has to do with the deplorable conditions the seamstress and her co-workers struggle under and the use of force to keep them in line. To make matters worse, Tim's brother Valentine, himself deeply political, decides to campaign against Symmes. As Tim digs he finds that Symmes is suspected of crimes much darker than he could imagine. To come to the truth, Tim must align himself with an enemy he cannot trust, the Madame Silkie Marsh.

    "...A corner of her mouth curved ironically. 'Do you know, I readily admit that you are a man who can string words together, Mr. Wilde. Though it is likely the only quality you possess other than a profound knack for barging in where you are unwanted.'

    'Just why are you palavering with me, then?'

    'Because I want you to barge in where you are wanted for once in your petty little life,'she hissed, showing the bile beneath the elegance.

    'You're trying to convince me to protect you,' I realized.

    'No, I know you'll protect me' She gestured at the brothel we were fast approaching, its sedate exterior belying the perverse events that had occurred within. 'You won't want to protect me, as uncomfortable as that fact might be when placed alongside your tiresome notions of chivalry. But protect me you will, nevertheless.'

    'Whyso?'

    'Because you'll be protecting fourteen other girls, Mr. Wilde..."

    Wilde must content with enemies too powerful for him alone and also with the return of the woman he loves but can never attain, Mercy Underhill. He must decide what is fact and what is fantasy as the next arson is set to happen.

    Lyndsay Faye creates a New York, in a window of time that is as rife with corruption and grit and lawlessness that it would make Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York look pale in comparison. In Timothy Wilde she has created a flawed hero who's sense of right and wrong is tested by the city, the time, and most of all by those he loves.

    The Fatal Flame is book three of the Timothy Wilde mysteries and ties together so many of the loose ends that had been left dangling in the first two tales. It is a finale but one hopes that it is not the end of Timothy Wilde and Faye brings us back to this city, this time and this copper star for at least one more run.

    Faye also, as she has in her two prior mysteries staring Timothy Wilde, addresses a horrible injustice suffered by the people of this time. The seamstresses who suffered under the yoke of their master's oppression. The rapes suffered by women that too often would go unpunished. Immigrants who were turned into prostitutes by the men and women who they though would befriend them and the machinations of a city government meant to line its own pockets far above and before caring for its people. At a time when the nation was beginning to be torn apart with the upcoming Civil War.

    Faye is a terrific writer who has chiseled out a time and mystery series that is as yet unrivaled by others in this field.

    A terrific read!

  • K.

    Trigger warnings: fire, murder, nineteenth century approaches to mental health care, torture.

    What Lyndsay Faye does consistently well is capture the gritty underbelly of historical society. She's clearly done a HUGE amount of research into the language, the tensions, the food, the medical practices, and the politics of the time, and she manages to seamlessly weave all of it into a story that's compelling and tense and action-packed.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed this series and the diversity that it

    Trigger warnings: fire, murder, nineteenth century approaches to mental health care, torture.

    What Lyndsay Faye does consistently well is capture the gritty underbelly of historical society. She's clearly done a HUGE amount of research into the language, the tensions, the food, the medical practices, and the politics of the time, and she manages to seamlessly weave all of it into a story that's compelling and tense and action-packed.

    I've thoroughly enjoyed this series and the diversity that it brings with it. The characters are wonderful, there are plenty of moral grey zones, and they all feel incredibly human. The mystery is gripping, and the whole thing was thoroughly enjoyable. I still think the second book in the trilogy is my favourite, but this one wasn't far behind.

  • Donna

    This is the third book in the Timothy Wilde series by Lyndsay Faye. Out of the three, this was my least favorite. (The second one was by far my most favorite.) Even though this one wasn't my favorite, I still liked it. I'm a fan of this author's writing. She is very eloquent at times. Her descriptions, and even the vocabulary, is wonderful to read. I also liked the characters. The brothers are so well drawn. I love how they are ready to kill each other one minute and in the next they are showing

    This is the third book in the Timothy Wilde series by Lyndsay Faye. Out of the three, this was my least favorite. (The second one was by far my most favorite.) Even though this one wasn't my favorite, I still liked it. I'm a fan of this author's writing. She is very eloquent at times. Her descriptions, and even the vocabulary, is wonderful to read. I also liked the characters. The brothers are so well drawn. I love how they are ready to kill each other one minute and in the next they are showing fondness. This relationship is well done.

    I guess there were a couple of things that I disliked. It was mostly with the story line. It was a little political which is definitely not my thing. Also, things were often kind of conveniently dropped into their laps to help them get to the bottom of the mystery. I'm not a fan of that....at all.

    Overall, this was 3 stars and I liked the way some of the loose ends were tied up with this last book in the trilogy.

  • Hannah Greendale

    The third installment of the Timothy Wilde series flounders a bit in its execution, and the overall tension in the series seems to continually decline as the stakes feel lower and lower with each new book.

    is as well researched and eloquently written as it's predecessors, but the book concerns itself with too many subplots: the book has to do with the mystery of an arsonist, but it's also about Timothy's love life; it's about politics and concerns itself with an election; it

    The third installment of the Timothy Wilde series flounders a bit in its execution, and the overall tension in the series seems to continually decline as the stakes feel lower and lower with each new book.

    is as well researched and eloquently written as it's predecessors, but the book concerns itself with too many subplots: the book has to do with the mystery of an arsonist, but it's also about Timothy's love life; it's about politics and concerns itself with an election; it focuses on Timothy's relationship with his brother; it's also a story about women's rights. And poverty. And racism. And rape. It's no small feat to work all of these topics into one book, but the result is the absence of a primary plot line that's developed enough to hold the reader captive.

    On the upside, the author's character descriptions are as magnificent as always:

    And the author peppers in lovely descriptions that beg to be read multiple times:

    is a nice addition to the series, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Jayson

    | More than Satisfactory

    Secondary characters are mere objects of outrage or pity, vital insofar as they act out a narrative of moral correctness.

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