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  • Susan Russo Anderson

Breathless


Death of a Brooklyn Landlord: When newly widowed Lorraine McDuffy gets a call in the middle of the night, it’s not the ghost of her dead husband on the line, but the trembling voice of an old flame, Frank Rizzo, a local butcher. He’s found the battered body of rent-gouging Brooklyn landlord Viktor Charnov. Felled by blunt trauma to the back of his head, the victim lies in the fetal position in the back of Frank’s shop, a pork chop clenched between his teeth. The distraught butcher asks Lorraine to investigate.

As the story moves through the entangled web left behind by the landlord’s evil dealings, Lorraine searches for Viktor’s estranged wife as well as a missing teen with ties to the landlord, believed to have jumped in despair from the Brooklyn Bridge two months earlier. Along the way, Lorraine spars with Detective First Grade Jane Templeton and cares for the dead landlord’s ten-year-old son, baseball-loving Joey Charnov, while she searches for his mother. And despite her guilt, Lorraine and Frank deepen their relationship in fits and starts.

If you’re a fan of Fina Fitzgibbons and her crew, you’ll recognize the main characters in Death of a Brooklyn Landlord—Lorraine McDuffy, Fina’s mother-in-law and protagonist in charge of the Fina Fitzgibbons Detective Agency while Fina and Denny are on their honeymoon; detectives Jane Templeton and Willoughby, her partner; Minnie, admin assistant at Lucy’s Cleaning Service and now taking on a greater role in the agency; Cookie and her husband, Clancy; and a newcomer, Fina’s estranged father, Paddy Fitzgibbons, who creates his own boozy havoc as he tangles with Lorraine and Cookie.

Here’s a scene from the book. It takes place on the Brooklyn Bridge, seen in the photo below in the background:

Nati climbed over the railing. By gripping the cables and treading with care on the slippery metal, she’d made it onto the roadway without falling. A truck, its sides trembling, rumbled past. Otherwise, the Brooklyn Bridge, her bridge, was deserted. She knew it would be at this hour—that was why she planned it this way.

Breathless with what she was about to do, she struggled up onto a girder, grabbing onto each fat cable with her thin hands, carefully placing one foot in front of the other, at one point twisting and nearly falling before it was time.

Photos: Cover, Death of a Brooklyn Landlord. Cover design, Avalon Graphics; Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges with a view of Brooklyn Heights in the background—the Brooklyn neighborhood where I lived for fourteen years and where most of my stories take place.

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