A Time Gone By Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Time Gone By

Simon & Schuster, Aug 2003
ISBN: 0743217101

In 1945 Manhattan, homicide detectives Jimmy Finn and Jake Downing investigate the death of Judge Wallace Reed. The most likely murder weapon, a heavy gavel with blood on it, was found near the corpse. Meanwhile City Democratic boss Manny Troy orders Downing to guard the victim's wife Cynthia, who the cop badly desires.
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In 1975, Downing watches his wife Mary interred in a Brooklyn cemetery. He guiltily thinks back thirty years to the affair with Cynthia while Mary gave birth alone to their daughter. Knowing he cannot make up for what he did to Mary, Downing feels he can somewhat rectify his other blunder of helping the state execute an innocent man for murder of the judge. He persuades Finn to join him in reinvestigating the case since improved technology will help, but the brass tells them as they were warned three decades ago to leave it alone or else.

This is a pure police procedural as William Heffernan provides two investigations into the same murder separated by only time. The story line with its two interrelated subplots is cleverly designed so that the audience sees the changes in people and even more the differences in how investigations are conducted. The depressing key cast members all emit negative vibes so that the audience never roots for anyone. Sub-genre fans will appreciate A TIME GONE BY as a powerful comparative duality that entertains the reader.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of A Time Gone By

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70% Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   solving long-past murder    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   politics Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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