An amazing first novel! Set in rough and ready 17th century Nieuw Amsterdam just before the English takeover, this multi-layered mystery centers around rising young fur trader Blandine van Couvering, the Dutch official known as Orphanmaster, and the hundreds of parentless children in his charge. With beautifully drawn (but never over-explained) characters from British spies to wealthy Dutch patroons to Indian guides, half-breeds and aristocrats, the novel is populated with fascinating characters. The story is complex, fast-moving, and beautifully researched. A combination of mystery, historical tract, romance, and horror story (with tiny touches of mysticism), you’ll mark Jean Zimmerman as a future favorite author. A 5.