Monday, November 06, 2017

Unholy City by Carrie Smith

Here's a case in which you can pick up book three in a series, and appreciate it. Carrie Smith's latest Claire Codella mystery, Unholy City, is a fascinating police procedural. The setting of the murder reminds me of Julia Spencer-Fleming's books. But, this is a solid police procedural that brings together a diverse cast for a compelling story.

Manhattan police detective Claire Codella has had a rocky life. She's the daughter of a killer, a man she saw beat a woman to death with a baseball bat. She's a cancer survivor who has had to struggle against her woman-hating boss. She left her police detective partner, Brian Haggerty, behind when she moved to homicide, a move that left them estranged, although they're now romantic partners. But, that doesn't mean it's easy to work together. When Haggerty arrives the scene of a death at St. Paul's Episcopalian Church, he calls in Claire to take over the case when he realizes Philip Graves, the senior warden, was murdered in the church's garden. Because it was right after a vestry meeting, the members of the vestry committee are all suspects. That's before Claire discovers there's a homeless shelter attached to the church, an organist in the church, and a man is found wandering on the second floor after midnight. The suspect list broadens when Claire and her team learn it was a tumultuous meeting, the minutes are missing, and they find the vestry secretary's body.

Secrets. It's all about secrets. All of the suspects have secrets they're trying to keep. And, the police are determined to find the secrets that may have led to Philip Graves' murder. It's not easy as suspects lawyer up, talk to the media, and try to thwart police discoveries.

Claire Codella has problems of her own. Her boss wants her off the case. The media is attacking her personally. And, her relationship with Brian Haggerty suffers as she focuses all her attention on the murder investigation.

Unholy City is a fast-paced, intense story that covers just a short period of time. It's Smith's character development, along with the police step-by-step investigation, that brings the story to life. Fans of police procedurals should appreciate Smith's entertaining mystery.

Carrie Smith's website is

Unholy City by Carrie Smith. Crooked Lane Books, 2017. ISBN 9781683313298 (hardcover), 320p.

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


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Nice coincidence, as Jackie is currently reading (at my recommendation) the first book in the series. As a former teacher, she attests that she got most of that stuff right. I liked the first two (other than the odious boss) and will put this on my list, which is growing longer by the day. I'm back to 9 on the library hold list, with three of them waiting to be picked up and two more in transit. This is in addition to the five books at hand. (Currently reading the new Michael Connelly.)

Still, this is better than not having anything I want to read, right?

Lesa said...

Definitely better, Jeff, than not having anything to read.