Brooklyn on Fire (Mary Handley Series #2)

Brooklyn on Fire (Mary Handley Series #2)

by Lawrence H. Levy


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, April 30

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553418941
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/19/2016
Series: Mary Handley Series , #2
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 304,991
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

LAWRENCE H. LEVY is a highly regarded film and TV writer who is a Writers Guild Award winner and two-time Emmy nominee. He has written for various hit TV shows such as Family Ties, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne, and SeinfeldBrooklyn on Fire is his second novel.

Read an Excerpt


It took quite some time for the old lady to undo the mess her friends had wrought. Vicky and Albert had done the unthinkable by having a domestic spat in front of her, a physi- cal one, too, and right in the middle of her living room. Any- one else would have been banished from her home, but Vicky and Albert were such close friends they had become family. And family was always given a certain leeway. Besides, the old lady was alone now, a widow for some time. She was well into her seventh decade, sixty-four years old to be exact, and even though it was 1890 and improvements in medicine seemed to occur daily, she was painfully aware she had out- lived most of her contemporaries. Vicky and Albert were all she had left.

Their spat had strewn newspapers every which way, but the old lady had corrected that. She carefully perused her work; ten years of her beloved Brooklyn Daily Eagle, in four- month stacks, approximately one hundred and twenty in each, spaced evenly on her living room floor in chronological order. The old lady took great pride in the fact that, at any moment, she could relive the major events of any specific day over the past decade—not that she had done so as of yet, but it was available to her and that was the important thing. She smiled and tossed some of her long, gray hair off her cheek to its proper resting place on her back. It was almost down to her waist by now. Years ago, she had given up frivolous things like haircuts and makeup. Her skin was wrinkled, her teeth yellow, and her dresses ancient, but who did she need to impress? Certainly not Vicky and Albert. They were family, and occasionally family needed to be corrected.

“You two are incorrigible. When I saw what you had done, I was beside myself.”

“You’re always beside yourself,” snapped back Vicky in her high yet haughty voice.

“There must be a hundred of you by now,” Albert added. His voice was deeper, with a deliberate cadence, almost a monotone.

“Probably closer to a thousand,” the old lady admitted. Vicky and Albert could always defuse a tense situation, and the old lady could never stay mad at them.

She glanced at her coffin clock and saw it was inching toward five p.m. She had promised Vicky and Albert she would prepare a special dinner for the three of them, and at the stroke of five, she would start the process. The old lady was on a strict schedule.

“Without a schedule, all that is left is chaos,” she had often said.

“And chaos is the enemy of civilized people,” Albert would always reply.

“Have I ever told you how very intelligent you are, Albert?” the old lady would say, complimenting him, and Vicky would inevitably react.

“Of course he’s intelligent. Do you think I would marry an idiot?”

And the old lady would laugh every time. Vicky and Al- bert were younger than her, but the old lady didn’t know their exact age. They were clearly well into midlife, but their behavior was much more youthful, and that energy seeped into her old bones by osmosis, a word her husband had taught her that was invented by some Frenchman. She truly missed her husband and her son, both of whom had been felled by a cholera epidemic in 1871. They had survived the Civil War only to be erased by a bacterium, an infernal bug, and she lived with that heartbreaking irony every day, never letting it go.

The coffin clock struck five.

“Ah, it’s time!” the old lady exclaimed. She patted the clock as if thanking it for the reminder, and some of the dust that covered it flew into the air.

Although it was daytime, it was dark inside. The shades were drawn, and the only light came from two small kero- sene lamps. The old lady’s house was large, but her volu- minous collections made it seem cramped. As they carefully navigated their way around the newspapers, past the boxes of porcelain dolls and tea canisters, and into the dining room, where years of mail smothered the table, the old lady mused about coffin clocks.

“Can you believe the imbeciles out there are calling them grandfather clocks? They’re tall, rectangular, and made of wood, like a coffin. What that has to do with a grandfather is beyond me, unless you’re burying the old fool.” 

They all agreed. The world had definitely gone mad. Danger and disrespect ruled. The pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle were filled with evidence of a dying culture: robberies, murders, young people being allowed to marry whomever they wanted. Everyone knew that “young” was synonymous with “dim-witted” and if left to their own devices, the na- tion’s youth would most certainly lead them down the path to hell. That was why the old lady decided to withdraw from society, if you could call it that these days. It didn’t matter that she lived in Clinton Hill, one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn. According to her, no place was safe. She had her grocer deliver staples and her butcher deliver meat. Each time they did, she gave them a list of what she wanted next. Her only concession to the modern world was a telephone she had installed in case of an emergency.

As the three of them entered the kitchen, the old lady reached for one of the many pots that filled the sink and counters. That’s when she heard it.

“What was that?” she asked as she turned toward Vicky and Albert, who were looking in the direction of the noise. “You heard it too, didn’t you?”

Then it happened again. It was a loud clank followed by what sounded like a scrape.

“It’s not the grocer,” the old lady remarked, full of concern. “He delivered yesterday.”
There was a third clank and scrape, then, seconds later, a pounding on the front door. The three of them flinched at the loud sound, fear of the unknown racing through their brains. They all stood still for another moment, not sure what to do.

Another pounding, even louder.

This time the old lady marched out of the kitchen, through the dining room, and into the living room as if she were about to take decisive action. Vicky and Albert paused, then followed.

Yet another pounding, the loudest yet. The three of them halted immediately.

The old lady had had enough. “There is a horrific beast out there that is planning our demise, and I won’t have it.” She walked to the telephone and picked up the receiver. “Hello, operator, get me the police, and do hurry.”

There was an eerie silence as she waited on the telephone. No more pounding.

“Of course I’ll hold on, but understand, this is a grave situation.”
Suddenly, coming from outside the front door, a man’s screams shot through the room. “Oh, oh, oh, no-o-o-o!” It was shortly followed by the sound of scraping and clanging metal, a crash, and then a thud. Seconds later, the man began moaning in a low, sorrowful voice. The old lady clung to the receiver and stared at it as if willing someone at the police station to speak up.

“O-o-o-oh, o-o-o-oh!” the man continued. In spite of her resolve, she couldn’t help being curious. The old lady set down the receiver, went to the right of the door by an entry window, and slowly bent back a tiny portion of the shade, hoping to sneak a peek without being noticed. What she saw astonished her.

Limestone covered her front courtyard and lying on it was a small man, about five foot six or so, with a metal brace covering his entire left leg. Next to him was the object over which he had probably tripped—a three-foot stone statue of an angel whose head was now separated from its body. The man was still moaning, the volume of which ranged from hushed, almost melodious tones to loud outbursts. The old lady felt relieved and foolish all at once.

“It’s a poor cripple. I can’t believe we’ve been fretting over a cripple,” she said.

“O-o-oh, o-o-o-oh.” The man’s voice seeped into the house like a cold, wet draft.

The old lady turned to Vicky and Albert. “Stop giving me those sorrowful looks. There will be somebody along soon enough,” she reasoned.

“Consider the consequences,” Vicky said. “He fell on your property and he could sue you. Which is worse—helping him now or paying him later?”

The old lady had to admit that Vicky made sense, but the task ahead of her was daunting. The last time she had ven- tured outside was three years before, when she was stricken with a bout of pneumonia. Two strong men carried her out on a stretcher and drove her to the hospital in a carriage. This is different, she thought.

The old lady took a deep breath, then slowly opened the front door, the hinges creaking from years of neglect. She stuck out her left foot, carefully pointing it downward like a dancer and setting the tip of her shoe on the limestone, then quickly removing it, as if testing the temperature of the water at a bathhouse. Feeling bolder, she ventured outside one small step as Vicky and Albert watched intently.

“Sir,” she softly called to him. There was no answer. He just continued to moan in a low, almost whiny tone. “Sir, do you need medical assistance? Shall I call a doctor?”

But there was still no answer, and the moaning increased. She decided to take a different, more aggressive tack. She stepped toward him. “Now, look here. You can’t lie in my entryway all day whimpering. What will the neighbors think? Besides, you broke my statue and—”

Before she could finish, he sat up with amazing swiftness and grabbed her around the waist. “Gotcha,” he said.

It was then that she first noticed the massive muscles bulging from his arms, the thickness of his chest, and the wild look in his eyes. She was in shock for a brief moment, but it was long enough. In no time, he was on his feet, one arm around her waist, the other covering her mouth as he lifted her in the air. She struggled, but he was much too strong. Her legs flailed helplessly as he carried her inside her house, the clanging of his metal leg brace ever present.

The old lady was not one to surrender. She kicked walls and slapped wildly at him. Several items—a vase, the tele- phone, a small table—were knocked over as he dragged her further into the house, but even she knew this was one fight she would not win, not without help.

Vicky and Albert saw their friend in trouble. Albert immediately jumped on the man’s back, but he too was no match for him. With a violent shake of his powerful body, the man easily dislodged Albert, then kicked him very hard with his one good leg, sending Albert reeling across the room. The man turned back to the old lady. He leaned her over a stack of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and started choking her.
Suddenly, the voice of a man with an Irish accent ema- nated from the telephone receiver on the floor. Bored, he was in midyawn. “Hello, this is the police. What can I do for ya? Hello?”

Vicky ran to the receiver, but with the old lady silenced, she couldn’t manage much. She stared at it quizzically as she stretched her long feline body. Albert joined her, then licked his right front paw, which had been injured when he was knocked across the room. The old lady had assigned them names in honor of her two favorite monarchs, Queen Vic- toria and Prince Albert, but without her speaking for them, words would never come out of their mouths.

“Anyone there?” asked the male voice. There was a click, and the telephone went silent.

Vicky and Albert looked at each other, then at their friend, who by now was completely helpless. They knew there was nothing they could do as her body fell limp and lifeless.

Vicky turned to the open door. She saw a mouse charge inside, scampering toward the back of the house. She took off after it with Albert right behind her. After all, it was dinner- time, and they were on a schedule.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Brooklyn on Fire (Mary Handley Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
Once again, I love the strong main character. She's working against society's standards by wanting to use her intelligence for more than just homemaking. And she is very good at it. The main evil-doer is quite dreadful. He enjoys doing terrible things. The reader knows there will inevitably have to be a confrontation between them. Add in an interesting assortment of historical characters and you really feel the time period.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Lawrence H. Levy in his new book “Brooklyn On Fire” Book Two in the Mary Handley Mystery series published by Broadway Books gives us another adventure with Mary Handley. From the back cover: Brooklyn’s most witty and daring detective risks everything to solve a dangerous triple-murder case After closing a case with the Brooklyn Police Department, Mary Handley is determined to become an official detective in her own right. And when Emily Worsham shows up at her new office— convinced her uncle John Worsham was murdered and desperate for answers—Mary’s second assignment begins. As she investigates the curious circumstances surrounding John’s death, Mary soon finds herself entangled in a high-stakes family scandal, a series of interconnected murders, political corruption, untrustworthy sources, and an unexpected romance with a central member of New York’s elite–offering a life of luxury Mary fears she could get used to. Featuring historic figures like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and the Vanderbilt family, Brooklyn on Fire takes Mary on a wild journey from New York City to North Carolina to uncover not only the truth of one man’s death, but to unravel the mystery in three murders – with links tied perilously close to her own personal world. Get ready to be transported back to 1890. This is high quality historical fiction Lawrence H. Levy has written a page-turning thriller. Mary Handley’s second case and it is a doozy, a triple-murder. Mr. Levy has given us a terrific character that we root for and want to succeed and hang out with in Mary Handley. Maybe a few times you might see what is coming next but that is because you are good. Most times you will be blindsided and you will want to read faster to keep up with the action. Get ready for a very interesting read that will keep you flipping pages. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this second book in the series. I got right into it and was kept thinking right to the end. I had read the first in the series, and was looking forward to seeing how the author would keep Mary busy in this second book. I personally enjoyed all the historical tidbits that were woven throughout the storyline, and love the period/location. I think Mary is quite a fun character, and I look forward to whatever new adventures will come in her future. Bring on the next book, Mr. Levy!!!!
StephanieTiner More than 1 year ago
Its been two years since Mary Handley worked with the Second Street Station to solve the Goodrich murder case. Though no longer working for the Brooklyn Police Department, Mary is determined to see her dreams of becoming a detective come true.. She has everything she needs too; an office, cards, and supportive friends. The only thing she doesn't have is a case. That is until Emily Worsham shows up at her office one morning. Emily Worsham is convinced that her uncle was murdered 20 years ago and she wants Mary to prove it. Soon Mary finds herself caught in a whirlwind of scandal, politics, and lies. I enjoyed this book so much more Second Street Station, book one in the Mary Handley series. This book followed much the same concepts as the first book, switching between Mary and a few other characters, including a murderer. This time, however, the murderer was much more believable and his importance to Mary's story and her case were much more evident. I love how Mary meets numerous people from history, including a Rockefeller and Vanderbilt which in turn makes Mary's character much more interesting. My greatest fault with this book would have to be the love interest. Though I liked the character himself, very much, where they are, at the end of the novel, is not much of a surprise given who he is. But if I say much more I will accidentally give something away. Which I don't want to do. I can't wait for another book to come out, and I hope it does because this isn't the best way to end a series. I would recommend this book to fans of Agatha Christie and even Sherlock Holmes. I received my copy of this book from for the sole purpose of an honest review.
Keara More than 1 year ago
I received this book free from Library Thing for my honest review. I've never read anything else by this author and quite honestly not sure I will. Brooklyn on Fire was interesting in the historical details. It didn't give away who did the murder(s). I have to say for me it was a very difficult read. It actually took me almost 3 weeks to actually get the book read. It was really, really slow. I'm not sure that I would have even finished the book except that I had to review it which I don't feel you should do unless you read the whole book. It did pick up near the end of the book but by then, for me, it was more like a chore to finish it.
JCgirl More than 1 year ago
Brooklyn on Fire: A Mary Handley Mystery by Lawrence H. Levy is a book that kept me very interested through the pages during exciting twists and turns. I do have to admit there was a lot of characters to keep straight with some being historical figures and while others were made up by the author for the point of the story. The story is about Mary Handley who wants to be private detective that assist the police in solving crimes. At this point in the story she has taken part in a few cases with the police, but in the end she really is still not being taken seriously by them. Being that the time was 1890, her dreams of being a private investigator didn't seem possible, so she was now passing her time working in a book store. By the 20th century Brooklyn was now a city filled with close to 1 million people, a huge metropolis with rich culture, it becomes the main focus of Brooklyn on Fire. As the citizens of this great city begin to be murdered one by one, Mary uses her keen sense of detective skills to track down the killer and being justice to the victims. Prior to reading this book, I wasn't aware this book was part of a series of stories about Mary Handley and her mysteries, but I now look forward to continue reading these other books in the succession, since I found them so entertaining.
BookyMcReady More than 1 year ago
There's just something I love about historical fiction, and I think it's that authors tend to go the extra step in making the world come alive. The sound of horse-drawn carriages, the muddy streets... Levy wrote a marvelous Brooklyn, and a charming South. Lazlo is a doll, and I would read a series of books with him as a Watson to Mary's Sherlock... only I'm not convinced about Mary. There's something about her, one might say. I would not be friends with her, which is fine. I certainly don't need that to enjoy the story. She's distractingly abrasive, in my opinion. She doesn't have a head for facts, instead she's an obnoxious know-it-all who uses information to sound superior. Sometimes she's able to use it to turn the tables on men who (foolishly) underestimate her, but not always. I understand (because I know my history, but also because the book tells and shows me multiple times) that women had to work ten times as hard to be taken half as seriously, if that. I also understand that having society-at-large as well as your mothers disapproval can really shape a person. Still. Her 'I know more than, and better than, you' attitude was wearing. Otherwise... I did enjoy the story quite a bit, and will be picking up the first book, [book:Second Street Station|23209948], which I missed earlier. The mystery was interesting, the bad guys were suitably villainous, and I do like friendships and family woven into the story-at-large. And Lazlo. There was a strange bit where either I missed how much time had passed (I didn't think a lot), or it wasn't clear, and some major issues seemed to be taken care of in a very short amount of time and never referred to again. Maybe it was just me? It seemed a little contrived to advance the romantic subplot along, and could have been handled a little different but in the end I don't count it against things. Just a side-note. Recommended it to a mystery book club.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by this author and I really liked it a lot. The main character was just so down to earth and so likable. I could hang out with Mary all day. She was my kind of girl. I really liked the historical part of it and the hanging out with the Carnegie's, the Vanderbilt's, and the Rockefeller's. The best part was the fact that the woman solved the murders that the police department could not. (Yay, go females!!) This was quite the cozy little mystery with a little history, (some fact and some fiction), a little romance, (nothing more daring than a kiss or hand holding), some corruption, some murder, some enemies who became friends and a woman who saves the day. What more could you ask for in a book? I loved it and could not put it down. There was someone out to get Mary and/or her family and I had to know who it was. It had to be the biggest scoundrel of all, because Mary's family was the nicest family there was, well if you didn't count the mother. HA! I sincerely recommend this book. It will keep you interested and wondering who the puppet is that is pulling the strings and sad for Mary's love life but happy she found the killer and the scoundrels. It is definitely an entertaining read. Thanks to Blogging for Books/Crown Publishing for approving my request to read this and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. Totally entertaining and I miss Mary already.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy is the second book in A Mary Handley Mystery series. It is April 1890 in Brooklyn, New York. Mary Handley is working at Lazlo’s Books since her last case. Mary is also advertising herself as a Consulting Detective (for hire) and has an office in the back room of the bookstore (Lazlo loves that she is a detective and encourages her work). Mary is approached by Emily Worsham. She wants to hire Mary to investigate the death of her uncle, John Worsham. The catch is that John Worsham died twenty-one years previously. Emily pays Mary for two weeks’ work and asks her to send updates via mail (she does not live in New York). Emily believes her uncle was murdered and did not die from natural causes. Mary starts to investigate and there is more to this case than she originally thought. There are some people who believe the past needs to stay buried (along with their secrets) and will do what they can to stop Mary’s investigation. Mary wants to prove she is a good detective (better than a man and the police department) and will not stop her investigation until she finds all the answers. Brooklyn on Fire is a good book, but not great (not as wonderful as the first book in this series). There is a lot going on in this book. Personally, I felt it was too much. Brooklyn on Fire is well written, has a good mystery, and a strong, female main character. I give Brooklyn on Fire 4 out of 5 stars. I just think the author tried to put too much in one book (I only summarized the mystery above). We have New York City wanting to consolidate Brooklyn (incorporate it into NYC) with the bigwigs from both cities conniving, romance between Mary and George Vanderbilt, Mary’s brother gets engaged (which was nice) as well as the main mystery (which is very complicated). Also, the stories jumped around (leading to the confusion). One minute you are with Mary, then with the politicians, then George Vanderbilt, the deceased elderly women with cats (that she treated like people), etc. I will, though, read the next book in A Mary Handley Mystery series. I keep hoping Mary will get hired on with the police. I received a complimentary copy of Brooklyn on Fire from Blogging for Books, LibraryThing, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.