Picks and Pans Review: Gramercy Park
Set in the Manhattan of 1894, Cohen's first novel might as well have taken place at the turn of the 21st century. The hero, opera singer Mario Alfieri, has a rabid fan base—he's the Victorian equivalent of Bono—with an "endless crush of people that surrounds him always: smiling, weeping, fawning; ready to sell themselves at a moment's notice." His young wife, Clara, has a dark past that could fill a week of Jerry Springer shows.
Cohen can't match the historical richness of Caleb Carr's The Alienist (which shares this milieu), but the supersoapy melodrama—will the couple be shunned by society?—keeps readers engaged. Normally, to see this much backstabbing you'd have to watch Survivor. (St. Martin's, $24.95)
Bottom Line: Serviceable antique