Friday Sampler: Too Quiet in Brooklyn by Susan Russo Anderson
April 8, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Friday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Too Quiet in Brooklyn, a mystery and suspense thriller by Susan Russo Anderson.
As one reviewer said: A classy mystery, well written, with characters you come to care about, a fantastic sense of setting, and fresh turns of phrases that resonated. If I had to sum this book up in three words they would be ‘entertaining, lively, thriller.’
A Murder, A Kidnapping, & One Woman Who Never Gives Up . . . Abandoned by her father and mourning the sudden loss of her mother, Fina Fitzgibbons ekes out a living by establishing a cleaning service in Brooklyn called Lucy’s. But when she finds a body on a busy sidewalk in the heart of the Heights, she dusts off her PI license and begins searching for the killer, only to discover that the strangled woman’s four-year-old grandson is missing.
A desperate hunt begins for the kidnapped child. During the chase, Fina resists falling in love with her boyfriend, Denny, an NYPD patrol officer, steps on the toes of Detective First Grade Jane Templeton, and uncovers secrets about her mother’s death.
In the end, the killer has a vicious surprise for Fina.
Sometimes I wonder what Denny sees in me. By now you’ve figured out we’re not just shacking up. We’re significants. Tall, handsome, a year older than me with a great future on the force, although he claims he loves his work and doesn’t want to move up. He doesn’t like sports except for baseball, football, and basketball. The only thing wrong with him are his parents, but he doesn’t seem to mind them too much. You’ll see what I mean soon because we’re going to their house for dinner, unless I can help it. I felt a rumble from someplace below my sternum as he waved goodbye and his cruiser disappeared.
After he left, Cookie and I sat for a few more minutes. “Nice lady.”
“The dead woman, of course. Couple of years ago when we started our book club at Teresa’s—remember, Cookie?—a few times she came in and sat at a table opposite us. I could tell she was listening in. You know how old people are. Struck me as being lonely. She’d listen in, sipping her coffee and flashing her rings and nodding at one of our comments or sat still staring at something only she could see, half listening to the conversation.”
“An all-together broad for an older chick,” Cookie said. “Are you sure our body was the same woman?”
I shook my head. The woman was no more. That’s what dead was, I kept telling myself. It was surreal, the body was still there, the face grotesque, familiar, but all the personality was drained away, so it was and it wasn’t the same person. Thoughts like that get me all weirded out, so I shut my eyes and dug my nails into my palm.
“Where are you?” Cookie asked. She hesitated for a sec, but knew me too well not to expect a reply, so she went on. “I remember her now. I asked her to join the club, too, but she said she wouldn’t fit in and anyways had a topsy-turvy schedule, something about frequent visits to someone, her daughter I think. I got the impression there was trouble on that front. No, what was it? She cared for her grandson a lot, that was it, and the daughter would appear out of the blue and he’d stay with her overnight so she had to drop everything. But maybe she just didn’t want to get involved, know what I mean?” Cookie was looking in the mirror, fixing a strand of hair, and the sun, now a late afternoon gold, was winking off it.
“I saw her a couple of times after that,” I said.
“After the time we asked her to join our group and she declined. I saw her again in Teresa’s, I think, but I was busy at the take away counter and she was sitting in a booth with a little boy and someone else.”
“We’ve got to find out who she is. We owe it to her.” Cookie said.
I knew it. Cookie was hooked into the case, the diet and karate and the boyfriend du jour forgotten.
“How much time have you got?” I asked.
“Whatever it takes. Want me to canvas the neighborhood, see if anyone saw anything?”
“Great idea. Just a few of the brownstones across the street from Lucy’s—anyone who had the right sight lines this morning. I mean, somebody’s bound to have seen something.”
She nodded and started to go.
“Something else I really need you to do. I tried showing Minnie my pictures of the dead woman and she freaked.”
“You can’t go showing those around, Fina, people will think you’re weird.”
“Minnie had a great idea, though. She suggested you draw the dead woman’s likeness from the photos.”
“Give me a pencil, I’ll do it right now.”
Twenty minutes later, she gave me a small graphite drawing and damned if it didn’t look just like the woman I remembered from the flower shop.
“Why didn’t you keep up with your art?”
With one hand Cookie whipped out her lipstick, eased off the cover, and flicked color onto her lips, returning it to her purse in one arcing movement. “Too complicated, but the quick answer is my dad didn’t want me to cut off my ear.”
“Huh?” I tried to shake the cobwebs from my brain. “I’m going up to Caputo’s. Meet me when you’re done. I’ll either be at Teresa’s or the Clark Street Station. How much time you got?”
Which is more time than I had, remembering my dinner obligation tonight.
Something or someone was goading me. I felt compelled, pushed by an unseen force. I was going to find this woman’s strangler, I knew it.