City of Dreams
by William Martin
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Forge Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765321978
Date: 11 May 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
An action-packed sprint through New York City. Tour the city with Peter Fallon as he tries to locate some Revolutionary War bonds, but also ends up running for his life.
City of Dreams, by William Martin, is an action story about the hobby of "Scripophily"--or the collection of old money and stock certificates. New York City financier and public personality Austin Arsenault finds an old Revolutionary War bond with a face value to 100 dollars. He believes there are more of the bonds and he hires antique dealer Peter Fallon and his fiancÚ, Evangeline, to find the rest. Arsenault and his lawyer have a case before the US Supreme Court concerning the bonds and whether the interest on the bonds is simple or compound interest. Using compound interest, the value of the stack of bonds is over one billion dollars.
Peter is an antique book dealer from Boston who has the reputation of being able to locate rare documents and manuscripts. Evangeline's home is New York City, and she and Peter head out to find the bonds. Unfortunately, others are also looking for the bonds, and trying to kill Peter and Evangeline. The chase through NYC is the gist of the present-day plot.
Adding interest to City of Dreams are the three other parallel sub-plots. The first takes place during the Revolutionary War. It discusses the lives of the people who actually purchase the bonds, where they hid them, and why they never redeemed them. The second is the late 1800s, where an immigrant worker found the stack of bonds, and why and where he hid them. The third sub-plot is in the 1980s, where a young woman from the Mid-West finds a job as a lawyer in New York City and ends up in a legal battle with the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the value of the bonds similar to the present-day battle. That attempt fizzes out, but Arsenault is convinced that his case is better. All he needs is the rest of the bonds to cash in his fortune.
The unifying theme of the three sub-plots is that all the characters looked to NYC as the City of Dreams. The young men and women of the Revolutionary War dreamed of freedom and a new country where they could live their dreams. The immigrant family from the 1800s lived the dream of a better life in the United Sates after they moved here from Europe. The young women in the 1980s lived her dream of becoming a lawyer in the big city. It is a great mix with the title.
I loved the present-day action of Peter and Evangeline. It moves quickly with lots of intricacies and sub-plots. The think the first two of the three parallel sub-plots drag on a bit. They are interesting and very important to the story, but I think the book would be better if they were a little shorter.
One of my favorite things about the book is the historical perspective of NYC. William Martin is able to take the present day places that Peter and Evangeline visit and use them in the sub plots as they were then. Peter will walk down Wall Street and talk about the building and parks, and so will the characters of the Revolutionary War. It is great to tie the locations together, especially since some survived the years and others were destroyed by fires or just by progress. I frequently travel to NYC and I am looking forward to visiting the New York Historical Society, the Flatiron Building, and other places the book mentions.
I recommend the City of Dreams. It is a great story and it is wonderful how the times of the past tie to the same locations in NYC today.