Nothing has been the same in New York City since terrorists destroyed the the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Everybody feels the pain, especially the inhabitants of the Lower East Side--the East Village, the Bowery, Chinatown, Alphabet City, SoHo--who, every time they look south, are forced to see the "the hole in the sky." Who is to blame? Who will pay? The easy answer for some is all those who appear "other," even if they are as American as baseball and apple pie. But the distrust of the "others," readily identified by the wardrobes of their religious beliefs--Muslims, Sikhs, even Buddhist monks-- turns to dislike, and then to something much more sinister. Nuyorican Private Eye Phil Rodriquez, a man known to do a favor for a neighbor if asked, learns how sinister when he's asked put a hurting on a teenaged boy somebody thinks is a Muslim. Phil and partner Yolanda learn how sinister when they're asked to investigate suspicious arson fires at businesses owned by "others" when the insurance company won't pay the claims. Then people start getting dead. And if that's not scary enough, Phil and Yo discover that they've signed a contract with the Russian Mafia. Not even Phil's almost-friend Carmine Aiello, a real life if low-level Mafioso, wants any part of that. The second Phil Rodriquez book is a fast-paced journey into the workings of Manhattan's Lower East Side...and into the spirits of the survivors of that terrorist attack that literally hit them where they live.
About the Author
Penny Mickelbury is the author of ten mystery novels in three successful series, as well as a novel of historical fiction, Belle City, and a collection of short stories, That Part of My Face. She also is an accomplished playwright, and has contributed articles and short stories to several magazines and journals.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This author writes exceptionally well. Her plots are well-woven and hold your interest. I have read each of her books and they all are not only interesting, fast-paced and believable but exceptionally well-written. The author has a talent with words. Few mystery writers manage to achieve her level of expression. I recommend her books to everyone. She has written about Harlem. She has also written about the bayous of Louisiana. In each case, you would think that she is a native of the area. I also recommend her book Paradise Interrupted. Gracemary
Once the melting pot that welcomed new immigrants, many residents of New York City East Side neighborhoods near the Ground Zero crater distrust newcomers especially those with Asian garb since the Twin Towers disaster. Hearing rumors of private investigator Phil Rodriquez¿s gutting someone¿s male anatomy, former school mate chum Sam Epstein, co-owner of a cleaning store, asks him to rough Hindu teenage Frankie who he wants to stay away from his fourteen years old niece Sasha Heller whose mom died in the WTC on 9/11, Phil refuses.
Phil decides to eat at the Indian restaurant owned by Frankie¿s parents to insure the teen is not a punk. However, by the time he arrives the restaurant is an inferno; Phil assumes Uncle Sammy committed the hate crime. He later learns a delivery man died in the blaze. Homeland Security agents go after the victims of the fire because of their heritage though they are legal and the insurance company refuses to pay insisting an investigation is underway to insure this was not self inflicted arson. Other ¿Thems¿ are hurt too either by assaults or by complaints to HSD about their behavior that sends agents on these Thems. Phil and his business partner Yolanda Aguierre get involved as the feds and the cops seem to target the legal immigrants only, not the arsonist or the xenophobic stalkers.
Phil¿s investigation is exciting as he runs through roadblocks from HSD, local hate advocates, and perhaps the Russian Mafia. However, what makes A MURDER TO CLOSE excellent is Penny Mickelbury who provides a strong case that helpless outrage has led to the loss of liberty for some; which extrapolates to all. The story line looks closely at people who lost loved ones on 9/11 and how they have reacted since while also providing a deep glimpse into the lives of Muslims, Hindu and Sikh residents trying to make it in an atmosphere of hate. Phil, Yolanda, Sasha¿s grandfather, and others welcome the newcomers while HSD, insurance firms, and some locals harass the Thems.