Consider the Alternative

( 1 )

Overview

"Anita Servi has a new job, but with the same problems: helping those who cannot find help elsewhere cope with living in a city that can't always afford to provide all they need. When those citizens are suffering because of age or race or income, when they find no alternatives, they turn to people like Anita. Sometimes they turn to each other." And sometimes they turn on each other; then help becomes murder. Now Anita Servi has to investigate one friend's death as another begins to face her own.
...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (41) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $1.99   
  • Used (37) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$1.99
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(166)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
2003-08-01 Mass Market Paperback New In excellent condition, no remainder marks.

Ships from: Rollinsford, NH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$1.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(11)

Condition: New
New Copy, No waiting, your item will be properly packaged and I ship 5-6 days a week with free tracking.Nice copy, Cover and pages are free of markings and rips. No waiting, your ... item will be properly packaged and I ship 5-6 days a week with free tracking.Has a book store stamp inside front cover or on front end paper.No waiting, your item will be properly packaged and I ship 5-6 days a week with free tracking. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Maple Grove, MN

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$3.29
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(146)

Condition: New
2003-08-01 Mass Market Paperback New NEW: Paperback, no markings, no spine lines, no creases and no remainder marks. Satisfaction Guaranteed. Ships next business day or sooner.

Ships from: Holly Springs, NC

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$5.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(1)

Condition: New
slight shelf wear, slit on front cover and review page

Ships from: DENTON, TX

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

"Anita Servi has a new job, but with the same problems: helping those who cannot find help elsewhere cope with living in a city that can't always afford to provide all they need. When those citizens are suffering because of age or race or income, when they find no alternatives, they turn to people like Anita. Sometimes they turn to each other." And sometimes they turn on each other; then help becomes murder. Now Anita Servi has to investigate one friend's death as another begins to face her own.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Agatha nominee Marcuse's third Anita Servi mystery (after 2001's Guilty Mind) works better as a straight novel than as a whodunit. Servi, an unemployed social worker, lucks into a new job near her home on Manhattan's Upper West Side only to find on her first day of work that her boss has taken her own life, apparently inspired by the Hemlock Society's famous guide, Final Exit. This disturbing incident proves to be the first of many. The retired cop who serves as chief of security for the apartment complex where Servi now works alerts her to an alarming increase in the death rate among the elderly residents over the past year. Suggestively, several of the deceased committed suicide using the Hemlock Society's methods. The plot enables Marcuse to explore, albeit with less depth and emotion than one might expect given the author's own professional background in eldercare, the morality of assisted suicide and the conflict between personal ethical standards and the needs of a loved one. It comes as little surprise that the deaths merit further inquiry, and there are too few characters with plausible motives to make the identity of the criminal a real puzzler. The amateurish nature of Servi's sleuthing makes the unresolved ending plausible, but still not satisfying. Her relationships with her husband and almost legally adopted nine-year-old daughter are warmly and convincingly portrayed, but any mystery whose climax seems borrowed from an episode of Murder, She Wrote is bound to disappoint. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (July 8) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Practically the first job social worker Anita Servi has to tackle after getting hired as Susan Wu's assistant at Neighbors Aiding Neighbors, the Upper West Side community center, is discovering Susan's body. Just like six elderly residents of the area, she's lying with a plastic bag over her head and a copy of Final Exit, that invaluable how-to guide to suicide, by her side. Despite the evidence, Neville, the ex-cop local security-guard, becomes suspicious. He nudges Anita, who's intruded on prior cases of his (Guilty Mind, 2001, etc.), to find out privileged details about her clients and agency, and Anita responds with facts about (1) a nurse who's pocketing pills, including the lethal oxycodone; (2) the president of the Board of Directors, who's overly fussy about locking up certain file drawers; (3) the treasurer, who was executor named in many of the apparent suicides' wills; (4) a disbanded "Issues of Later Life" group now holding their discussions in semi-secrecy; and (5) large bequests left to Neighbors Aiding Neighbors by all those obliging suicides. More will die, some leaping ahead of the latter stages of dementia or cancer, others pushed by a less-than-friendly hand, before Neville, Anita, and one of New York's finest zero in on the various misdeeds, not many of which can be proved in a court of law. Marcuse has perceptive things to say about geriatric foibles and abuses, although the most telling exchanges are reserved for Anita and her not-quite-yet-adopted daughter Clea.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373264643
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 8/12/2003
  • Series: Worldwide Mystery Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.54 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Consider the Alternative


By Irene Marcuse

Walker & Company

Copyright © 2002 Irene Marcuse.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0802733778



Chapter One


It has its moments, being out of a job. Regardless of whether you've quit, been laid off, or gotten fired, if you can manage to set aside the financial worries for a few minutes—no small feat—you notice a kind of elation lurking in your breast. The rest of the world is tied to the clock, busy doing things they'd rather not, while you've got an unplanned day stretching ahead of you. Free time!

    Of course, it's a lot simpler when you're young and unattached. I spent my twenties picking up and discarding waitress jobs while I nurtured the hope that someday I'd make a living painting watercolors. Uh-huh. As my mother says, You live long enough, you get smart. I finally woke up to the realization that it was one thing to be waiting tables at thirty, but I sure didn't want to be doing it at forty.

    So I moved across the continent from California to New York City, where I nursed my grandmother through her final year. After she died, I put the small inheritance she left me to use and got a master's degree in social work. Since then, I've also acquired a husband and a foster daughter whose adoption we have every reason to think might actually be on the eve of finalization.

    Until six weeks ago I'd had a good job, working with the elderly population of my Upper West Side neighborhood. On September 1, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine pulled the plug on funding for my agency, Senior Services. Call me optimistic; I was confident that social work jobs with good benefits, in walking distance of where I live, with hours that could flex enough to allow for the demands of a family, would not be hard to locate or land.

    By the middle of October I was getting nervous about money. My husband, Benno, is a self-employed cabinetmaker, which means we carry the major overhead of a woodworking shop whether he's busy or not. Our health insurance disappeared with my job, and our monthly premium as private payers is $18.42 less than a month's maintenance payment on our apartment.

    Not that I hadn't managed to occupy my time. I filled two photo albums, bringing our family history up to Clea's sixth birthday—only three years to go. With any luck, the sweater I was knitting would still fit her by the time I got it finished. Not to mention washing all seven windows in our apartment, repotting my grandmother's collection of African violets, and cooking dinners that actually required recipes.

    Nevertheless, the joys of unemployment were beginning to tarnish.

    While the New York Jets were well on their way to a winning season, I became a devotee of the Help Wanted section of Sunday's Times. Monday mornings were occupied with composing hopeful cover letters to accompany my résumé. In an average week, I applied for a dozen jobs that all sounded more appealing in their advertisements than at the handful of interviews I'd landed.

    New York—it's who you know, and the connections work in ways mysterious and strange. The best of my job prospects came through Benno, one of those six-degrees kinds of things. For years, he's been easing the stress on his lower back with a monthly shiatsu session. As he got to know the masseur, Katsu Kajiwara, it emerged that he'd trained as a woodworker before turning to the less strenuous art of massage. When Benno needed an occasional hand on a large project, he'd hire Katsu to work with him.

    In one of those odd coincidences New York throws at its residents, Katsu's wife was also a social worker at a small nonprofit agency serving the elderly in Morningside Heights. Benno told me that at the moment of realization, he'd joked to Katsu that maybe they were married to the same woman.

    Susan Wu and I had actually met, in a professional way, before our husbands did. Susan was the executive director of NAN, Neighbors Aiding Neighbors, and Senior Services had done money management for several of her clients. NAN's second social worker had quit abruptly two weeks ago. The connection through our husbands meant that I knew about the opening before it was advertised, and Susan had expedited my application and interview. I was more than qualified; I knew the age group, their needs, and the services available to them. Careerwise, it would be a lateral move for me—walking ten blocks farther north was the main difference in what I'd be doing.

    We'd discussed salary, schedule, job title, responsibilities. The upshot was that, pending approval of NAN's board of directors, I was hired. They'd met last night, and I expected a formal offer this morning.

    Which meant this was my last Saturday of freedom. Walking through the flurry of yellow leaves from the trees in Sakura Park at 10:00 A.M., I was feeling virtuous and full of hope: I'd volunteered the morning to my new job.

    It helped that lending some muscle to schlepp boxes for NAN's fall flea market meant that I'd have a chance to check out the donated treasures.

    I know, this is a lot of explanation, but be patient. I'm telling a story, a story about death. Not a topic you can just jump into.

    I work with people who are near the end of their natural life spans, so I get to see death up close. It can come quickly, or as a drawn-out misery. I've learned that a lingering death is not always a bad thing, nor a fast death a mercy.

    There's comfort in simply sitting with a person on the threshold. I know; when it came time for my grandmother, I wanted her with me as long as possible. Maybe it would have been different if she'd been in pain, but she wasn't.

    Some people never recover from a sudden loss. Unfinished business is the greater part of grief, according to my mother, and it's regret that salts the tears. Death without warning steals more than the future; it also takes away any chance of reconciling the past.

    Morbid thoughts for a sunlit morning;.


October is the month that makes winter worthwhile, that won me over to seasons. Benno has his mother's Mediterranean climate in his blood, and summer is his season. He'd do well in my hometown, Berkeley, where the Pacific air is mild all year long. Me, I relish the days when summer's humid pall has evaporated and the leaves turn from their oppressive, omnipresent green to blaze gold and red against a sky as close as the East Coast ever gets to the crisp blue of northern California.

    The seasons actually change later in the city than in the rest of the state. The concrete holds the heat, and leaves linger longer on the trees. Mid-October, the piles were deep enough to shuffle under my feet. Going down the steps from Convent Avenue, the Virginia creeper that dung to the high brick retaining wall was a splatter painting of scarlet and green. It felt good to be up and out in the world.

    Just as I got to Broadway, a northbound train came screeching out of its underground lair for the brief stretch where the subway soars over the valley of 125th Street. Caught by the Don't Walk light, I had to wait under the stone arch supporting the track while the ultimate sound of the city clanked above my head. Back to reality.

    The brakes squealed into the station. The light changed. I crossed over to Monument Estates, home of NAN.

    The office was located in one of the ten buildings that make up the Estates complex. The brick high-rises, erected in the 1950s by a consortium of area educational institutions including Columbia University, Union and Jewish Theological Seminaries, and Manhattan School of Music, served as a bulwark against the encroachments of Harlem. Since it provided subsidized middle-income housing, the Estates also became a haven for an integrated population of mid-level professionals.

    As I walked up the steps, a bass drone of movie-actor voices seeped through the crack between open office windows and drawn venetian blinds. NAN sponsored a Saturday video program, and Susan had warned me that a volunteer might be in early to prescreen the movie. It sounded like she was right.

    I rang the bell four times before the sound track went silent. An elderly white woman with hair sparse as dandelion fluff opened the door.

    "You're early. The movie doesn't start until two."

    "I know." I smiled into her unwelcoming face and told her I was meeting Susan Wu.

    "I don't know anything about that. Maybe she's in her office." The woman jerked her head at a closed door behind and to her left. "Well, you'd better come in. I'm Addle Collins."

    It was grudging, but I'd take it. "Anita Servi." I offered her a hand, which she looked at like it was an unacceptable piece of meat at the butcher's, and didn't take.

    "I've been here for half an hour. I suppose she"—another jerk toward the door—"came in earlier. At least she hasn't come out to bother me. I don't expect anyone to be here Saturday morning. I like to watch the movie straight through without interruptions. I'm the one who lets people in, you know, and I have to open the door and take the money. We say two o'clock sharp on the signs, but people always come late, and then they take their time getting settled. With all that going on, I can't concentrate on the show."

    "I won't keep you, then" I'd almost forgotten how it was, working with the elderly—you got the whole story, whether you wanted it or not.

    Addie wasn't ready to let me go. She gave the inner door two sharp raps with a backhanded fist. "Susan! Your friend is here!"

    There was no response.

    "Where is she?" Addie knocked again. "I thought that darn alarm wasn't set when I let myself in, but this door was closed, so I didn't worry about the alarm. I assumed Susan was in her office."

    "Maybe." I tried a knock myself, and then the knob. It didn't turn.

    "I suppose she could have slipped out, and I wouldn't have noticed. This Henry the Eighth is rather loud." Addie considered me. "Would you like to watch it: with me while you wait?"

    At the other end of the short hall were two open doors, one to the bathroom, the other to a second office.

    "No, thanks, I don't want to intrude," I told Addie. "I'll wait in the other room."

    "Suit yourself." Addie shrugged and went hack to the movie.

    NAN's home is actually a converted two-bedroom apartment. The wall between kitchen and living room was removed to make a single open space for group events like the videos, shown on a large-screen TV. The former bedrooms serve as functional if cramped offices. Susan had the larger; the other, now packed with flea market donations, would be mine.

    I pushed open the door and flipped on the overhead light. The floor area, except for a small space in front of a pair of file cabinets, was piled with boxes. The desk and both chairs held an assortment of plastic shopping bags that spewed yarn, stuffed animals, baskets, a painted metal tray, empty picture frames. A toaster oven wearing two straw hats occupied the windowsill. It was obvious why Susan needed help carting it all down to the storage unit in the basement.

    An orange tiger perched on a shopping cart loaded with jigsaw-puzzle boxes glared at me with a baleful glass eye. I stepped cautiously past him to open the blinds. I thought a little real daylight might help me figure out what I could do while I waited. I surveyed the jumble, trying to organize it mentally. The one cart was already full; any box that could be closed was, and stacked chest-high against the wall.

    I kicked myself for not stopping at the Bread Shop to pick up coffee on my way in. Well, maybe that was where Susan had gone. I reached for the tiger, intending to turn him around so he'd stop staring at me, when I realized the cart stood in front of a connecting door between the two offices.

    I figured what the hell, and gave it a knock. Still no answer; no surprise there. I tried that knob, too. At least in Susan's office there'd be room to sit while I waited.

    It didn't turn. Nor was there a slot for a key. So if Susan wasn't in there, how did both doors get locked?

    Right, they were bedroom doors. Maybe it had one of those little buttons, and she kept it locked for privacy. The sound track from the living room provided the kind of menacing, atmospheric music that signals the approach of a bad guy.

    I knocked again, louder. The thin walls were perfect for the conduction of noise. If she was there, no way Susan didn't hear me. And if she wasn't, how did she plan to get back in?

    I rattled the knob, frustrated.

    It took me a minute. If the door had inadvertently been locked when Susan, not realizing it, closed the door behind her as she left, she'd have locked herself out. Maybe she'd gone to find someone from maintenance to help her get back in?

    Anything's possible.

    I knew an easier way to get past these flimsy locks. I opened my wallet. Visa was everywhere I wanted to be. I used the stiff plastic card to hold the latch back while I pushed the door open.

    Thin bars of sun angled through the drawn blinds and fell on a gawky figure in the client's chair beside the desk.


Excerpted from Consider the Alternative by Irene Marcuse. Copyright © 2002 by Irene Marcuse. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    solid amateur sleuth tale with a social message

    When the Cathedral of St. John the Divine stopped funding senior services, Anita Servi was out of a job. With her husband, a carpenter, working only sporadically and a foster daughter to support she needs work immediately. Thanks to Susan, the wife of her husband¿s masseuse, Anita lands employment at Monument Estates, a upper middle class housing complex located on Manhattan¿s upper West Side. <P>Since half the residents who own their own apartments are senior citizens, Nan (Neighbors Assisting Neighbors) was formed. Anita is hired as a social worker but on her first day on the job, she find her boss Susan dead in her office, a suicide note on her desk and the book Final Exit near the body. She later finds out that three other residents committed suicide by using the recommendations found in Final Exit. As the death toll mounts, Anita begins to wonder if someone isn¿t giving the residents a little assistance to their voyage to the other side. <P>Irene Marcuse makes a case for legally assisted suicide without making any moral judgment. CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVE is a solid amateur sleuth tale with a social message woven into the plot. The protagonist is a superb role model who readers will want to emulate because she adheres to her principles. <P>Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)