A brutally murdered family man without an enemy in the world. A box full of charming letters home, written a century ago by an unknown female worker at the famed Tiffany studios. Historic Green-Wood cemetery, where a decrepit mausoleum with stunning stained glass windows is now off limits. Suddenly, all of this is part of Erica Donato's life.
Erica is a youngish single mother of a teen, an oldish history grad student, and the lowest person on the totem pole of the history museum where she works.
Soon secrets begin to emerge in the most unexpected places. An admirable life was not what it seemed, confiding letters conceal their most important story. All set against the background of the splendid old cemetery and the life of modern Brooklyn, the stories of old families and old loves with hidden ties merges with new crimes and the true value of art.
About the Author
Triss Stein is a small-town girl who has spent most of her adult life living and working in New York City. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident which she uses to write mysteries about Brooklyn, her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. Brooklyn Wars is the fourth Erica Donato mystery, following Brooklyn Secrets.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel is the second Erica Donato mystery, and, like the first, “Brooklyn Bones,” it’s not all about a contemporaneous crime, but involves the past. In a way, this is fitting, since the protagonist is working on a PhD in history. As in the first in the series, it takes place in Brooklyn, NY, home of the Green-Wood cemetery, where many Tiffany windows adorn mausoleums, and Brighton Beach, home to numerous Russian immigrants and nicknamed Little Odessa. The plot involves the murder of a Russian immigrant, Erica’s friend and the father of her daughter’s friend, whose second job was as a night watchman at the Green-Wood cemetery, and the theft of a Tiffany window from one of its mausoleums. This gives the author the opportunity to delve into history, as she reviews century-old letters of an artist who worked for the famed glassmaker. The story moves a bit slowly, weighed down by Erica’s personal life, complicated by her widowhood, the pressures of her studies, her own insecurities, and the raising of her 15-year-old daughter. But in the end, as Thomas Wolfe wrote, “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.” Yet Triss Stein is carving out that territory as her own. Recommended.
Triss Stein’s BROOKLYN GRAVES has everything I look for in a mystery: an intelligent plot, a vivid setting, and a protagonist I like hanging out with. I enjoyed BROOKLYN BONES, the first book in the series, and this second book doesn’t disappoint. Erica Donato, the single mother of a moody fifteen-year old (aren’t they all), works part-time at a Brooklyn museum while trying to finish her Ph.D. in history. When her boss assigns her to escort the world’s foremost Tiffany authority to the historic Green-Wood cemetery, she has no choice but to say yes despite her very full plate. Stein skillfully explores past and present links between the Tiffany studio, the cemetery and a brutal murder that forces Erica to relive the loss of her husband years earlier. This is a moving and compelling read.
You might think that a tale revolving around old letters and stained glass windows (in a cemetery, no less) would be peaceful and leisurely. Well, not in Brooklyn. There's beauty, yes, and some dust, but little peace for Erica Donato, who's got a dissertation to finish, a part-time job that's just been complicated by a pompous academic, a teenage daughter (need I say more?), and unpleasant dramas ripping through her neighborhood and personal life. There's a lot to enjoy here about the evolution of Brooklyn up to the current day, and how this enormous, diverse borough keeps being shaped and remade by the people who decide to make it their home. I loved the way the issue of grieving was addressed. Sometimes, in soft-boiled mysteries, the deaths of characters seem not to be anything more than plot points, excuses for the story to begin. Erica's own grief over the loss of her daughter's father years ago is triggered by the loss of a family friend, another father and husband. The way she negotiates her own memories with her daughter, and tries to reach out to a family whose grief she understands too well is handled very sensitively and realistically, I think, which added depth to the story and a parallel line of contemporary family drama to the ones suspected in the past. Come for the mystery, stay for the history!