When I think of Manhattan I picture tall
buildings with lots of hustle and bustle, and when I think of American history
I picture the Brits, French, and Spanish, I know the Dutch were here but they
do not come as easily to my mind. In
1663 Manhattan was known as New Amsterdam, a Dutch trading colony. It was a tense time; the Brits were in the
mood to take over the territory and will soon do so. Zimmerman brings a rich
abundance of historical detail to her story.
Blandine, one of the main characters, made her way against all odds in a
man’s world. An orphan and a woman, she is now a trader, canny and determined,
an unusual role for a woman. When the
colony’s orphans start to go missing, she takes a personal interest. Blandine is aided in her investigations by
Edward, an Englishman and a spy with an agenda of his own. Suspicion is spread around liberally. If you like historic fiction, this mystery is
just the ticket.
From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in seventeenth-century Manhattan
It's 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.
Suspects abound, including the governor's wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony's own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine's newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.
Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters, "The Orphanmaster" is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.