Saturday, August 05, 2017

Brooklyn Wars by Triss Stein

Have you ever enjoyed the background of a book, but wanted to shake the amateur sleuth? I know some of my friends who love Triss Stein's Erica Donato mysteries are not going to be happy with my comments about  Brooklyn Wars. I love history, and I appreciate Stein's stories of Brooklyn. But, Erica Donato herself drives me nuts.

Donato is a PhD candidate who hasn't quite finished her dissertation about changes in city neighborhoods. A meeting about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, three hundred acres of undeveloped real estate, is right up her alley. She can hear a little about the history, meet the people, hear what they have to say about development. After hearing the angry comments against preserving the historic Admirals' Row, Erica wanders over to see the houses. She sees more than houses. She witnesses the shooting of Michael Conti, a power broker and wheeler dealer.

That's one more story she can add to her dissertation, despite her new adviser's frustration. Given a deadline to finish, Erica frantically searches for the story of Conti's life, discovering how many people hated him, including wives and his daughter. She never expects that her daughter's family history project will intersect with her research. Erica discovers that her late husband's family had connections to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And, one young woman in the family even broke barriers by working there during World War II. Now, Erica just needs to wrap up her story of the Navy Yard, while juggling a part-time job, a potential romance, and her daughter's demands for a sixteenth birthday party, along with a visit from her difficult mother-in-law.

And, that's the problem with the book for me, Erica's personal life. I understand she married early, against the wishes of both sets of parents. I understand she lost her husband when her daughter was just a toddler. But, Erica Donato seems stuck in her life. Granted, that's part of this story that wraps up an arc, Erica learning to move on. But, emotionally, she seems younger than her sixteen-year-old daughter. It's Erica who seems to want to pick fights with everyone. At times, her daughter seems more mature.

I could have used a little more history, a little more actual connection of the family to the Brooklyn Naval Yard. And, I could have used a more mature amateur sleuth in Brooklyn Wars.

Triss Stein's website is

Brooklyn Wars by Triss Stein. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464207198 (paperback) 236p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

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