The Orphanmaster

USA Today review of The Orphanmaster:

“As in the best historical fiction, she has created a kind of truce between the authority of the past and the accessibility of the present, revealing to us what it once meant to be alive, and what that history means to us now.”

The Orphanmaster has been named  a Washington Irving Book Selection of the Westchester Library Association for 2013.

NPR names The Orphanmaster one of six best historical novels of 2012! “Jean Zimmerman’s The Orphanmaster is a rip-roaring read, packed with action and dark suspense… I was captivated by Zimmerman’s unforgettable evocation of New Amsterdam.”

Best Summer Read from USA Today!

Summer Pick Shout-outs from the New York Daily News, Newsday, Los Angeles TimesArizona Republic, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tampa Bay Times, and others!

The Orphanmaster Movie: Nationally recognized independent bookseller Mitchell Kaplan and award winning Hollywood producer Paula Mazur (The Mazur/Kaplan Company) are adding The Orphanmaster to their feature slate of bestselling titles including The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

Praise for The Orphanmaster:

“[A] compulsively readable, heartbreaking, and grisly mystery set in a wild colonial America.” – ALA Booklist

“A feisty young Dutch woman, an English spy, and a local demon all cross paths in 1663 New Amsterdam, in this Ludlumesque historical thriller…a successful mix of historical fiction, spy thriller, and horror.” – Library Journal

“As in the best historical fiction, [Zimmerman] has created a kind of truce between the authority of the past and the accessibility of the present, revealing to us what it once meant to be alive, and what that history means to us now … on nearly every page there is some unobtrusively offered word or description, of food, of architecture, of dress, that brings the period and its people into clearer focus.” – USA Today“Absorbing period fiction with the requisite colorful characters of the era.” – The New York Daily News
The Orphanmaster is a sweeping novel of great and precise imaginative intelligence; it’s also the most entertaining and believable historical novel I’ve read in years. Jean Zimmerman is a debut novelist who already writes like an old master. Read any page of The Orphanmaster and you’ll become an instant fan.”  – Darin Strauss, Chang and Eng
“Here’s American history turned inside out, animated by Jean Zimmerman’s prodigious imagination. Monsters lurk in the shadows, chaos presses in, legends come alive, and one adventure leads with irresistible force to the next. The Orphanmaster is a breathtaking achievement.” — Joanna Scott, Manikin

“With The Orphanmaster, Jean Zimmerman performs mental sleight-of-hand.  She takes readers on a time trip to Manhattan in 1663.  She brings another time, place, and culture to life and makes it vivid.” — Lucia St. Clair Robson, Ride the Wind

What the Book Blogs Are Saying About The Orphanmaster:

“Beautifully written, sophisticated yet terrifying in its examination of human flaws, this stunning novel haunts long after the monster is named and innocence reclaimed.” Curled Up With A Good Book

“Every now and then I read a book that just takes my breath away. It feels like the author wrote the book just for me, and I just can’t put it down. This one was just that. It was just so brilliant that I’m really struggling how to put it into words….So, 5 stars, absolutely brilliant, all-time-favorite (and even has a beautiful cover), and I really, really hope this author writes more historical fiction like this.” GoodReads

“This is a worthwhile book for all adults, men and women alike. I suggest purchasing a copy when it is released, this coming Tuesday.” Books Make Great Lovers

“The best thing about The Orphanmaster is its historical detail. Zimmerman does an excellent job of setting the scene and integrating issues and concerns the colonists had during that time. The legend of the witika was delightfully horrific.” The Reader’s Refuge

“The first thing I have to mention is Zimmerman’s writing. She has a way with words. The novel is complex and beautiful. I learned new terms and got to appreciate just how crazy Dutch looks. Reading The Orphanmaster is simply a pleasure.” A Reader of Fictions

“Zimmerman’s historical detail is rich and intriguing, and makes the hunt for a serial killer, a common thriller plot these days, seem new and, well, thrilling.”

“Every once in a while, an outstanding historical thriller comes along that transports you back in time and makes the story’s era come vibrantly alive, while still capturing your imagination with a complex, deftly-designed plot. Jean Zimmerman’s first novel, The Orphanmaster,  is such a book” (Suspense Magazine June Issue)

CONTACT INFORMATION: Louise Braverman, Associate Director, Viking Penguin Publicity, 212/366-2752,

The Orphanmaster takes place during the years 1663 and 1664, in and around the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan.  Orphans from the colony are going missing; a serial killer may be on the loose and among those looking into it are a beautiful fiercely resilient 22-year-old Dutch female trader, herself an orphan, and a dashing English spy who becomes her love interest.  The cast of colorful, unforgettable characters includes the colony’s corrupt Orphanmaster, an African giant, and an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals.

Zimmerman recreates the scenes, textures and aromas of early New York City and its surrounding wilderness, conveying the harsh and earthy reality of life in the 1600s, as well as immersing the reader in the commerce and politics of the time, in a novel which is both a gripping historical thriller and a rousing love story.

The Castello Plan

A 1660 map that is the first street plan of Manhattan. These are the streets traversed by Blandine and Drummond.