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Metropolis by Elizabeth Gaffney
The man at the center of Metropolis goes by the name of George Geiermeier at the beginning of the novel, although that's just the name he's used for the troubled passage from Germany to New York City. It's just after the Civil War and he comes to the city in search of the American dream and he finds a job working in P. T. Barnum's stables. When arson destroys the stables, he finds himself framed for the crime and on the run from the law. He's taken in by a gang who could use an arsonist and a man with nothing left to lose. He undergoes another change of identity, and falls in love with with a tough, gritty woman. His pact with the gangleader may lead to his undoing, and his story veers through more fires, disasters, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, as he struggles to eke an out existence in the city's underworld. Elizabeth Gaffney's novel has received mixed reviews with the San Jose Mercury News saying, "Metropolis teems with imagined life, as a good page-turner should. Engaged with history, artfully structured, told with dashing wit, it's enough to make you hope that we don't have to wait seven years for another book from Gaffney."