In the middle of a wintry night, private investigator Fina Fitzgibbons finds Lorraine’s friend, Phyllida Oxley, slumped over her dining room table, the victim of memory-impairing date rape drugs. When her condition goes from poor to comatose, her distraught fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Kat Oxley disappears. Meanwhile, Fina’s agency is busy surveilling a massage parlor in Bensonhurst suspected of human trafficking, and Fina’s father reappears to throw a wrench into her relationship with NYPD Patrol Officer Denny McDuffy. As Fina frantically searches for the missing teen, she uncovers the truth behind the traffickers, but they have a surprise waiting for her in the not-so-friendly skies.
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I read the first book in this series, Too Quiet in Brooklyn, back in May of this year, so when the chance to review The Brooklyn Drop came along, I JUMPED!
For those unfamiliar with the series, Lorraine is Fina's boyfriend's mother. Phyllida's son and daughter-in-law were killed in a plane crash and she got custody of their daughter Kat, although not without rancorous custody hearings from the maternal grandparents.
With the race to get to Phyllida, who has been slipped a mickey, Ms. Anderson gets us in the action right from the very beginning - just the way I like it! I think the use of 1st person narrative works well to underscore the urgency of the action. And who would do that to a grandmother? There are some sick people in this world.
Talking about sick people, there is something not quite right with Kat's mother's family. Aside from the fact that they were 'posh' and fought for custody, Kat doesn't think very highly of them either, and not without reason. I enjoyed the chapters and passages that were in her voice - and Susan Anderson captures the essence of the scattered teenage mind.
I like the relationship between Fina and Jane Templeton, Denny's police colleague and therefore the 'other woman' in his life. Often combative, the ladies have each other's backs when needed. And it's nice to see a series where the other woman is not a romantic rival.
The action in Brooklyn Drop is progressive and riveting. Just when you think you've seen the worst, another layer, another facet is added. Alternatively, it is not so in-your-face-all-the-time that it becomes a chore to read.
When I say this book is melodramatic, I mean it in the best possible way. You get to fist-pump when the white hats get the upper hand and boo (out loud if you want to, I won't mind) when the black hats show how bad they can be.
Definitely looking forward to the next adventures of Fina Fitzgibbons!
Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a member of Sisters in Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She’s taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes. Too Quiet in Brooklyn, the first book in the Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn mystery series, published December 2013. The second book in the series, Missing Brandy, about a missing teen, published September 2014, and Whiskey’s Gone, about the abduction of a single mom, completes a trilogy. The working title of the fourth is Dead in Brooklyn.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
1. How is Fina Fitzgibbons different from Serafina Florio in some of your other books?
What a great question, LuAnn! And first of all, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. I really appreciate it.
So, okay, Fina’s core conflict is trying to commit to another, her fiancé, Denny, while maintaining her own individuality. And living in the mid to late nineteenth century, Serafina doesn’t grapple with women’s rights, not to the same degree as we do, although there were rumblings then of the notion that women are people, too. Fina Fitzgibbons is a contemporary woman with problems of commitment and modern-day concerns, and even though there is an essential human sameness in people, I believe, no matter the age we live in, Fina wrestles with concerns Serafina didn’t have—for example, the whole notion, care and feeding, if you will, of our right to privacy. And while Fina lives in a relatively stable society, Serafina does not: Serafina lives in the war-ravaged Sicily of the 1870s until she moves to Paris and finally to New York. In addition, Serafina is a certified midwife and does her sleuthing on the side; and Fina, while she started a cleaning business to make ends meet, is a private investigator.
But to tell you the truth, there are a lot more similarities than differences between Fina and Serafina. For one, they’re related: Serafina is Fina’s great-great grandmother, and Fina has inherited her red curls and her jade eyes. More, many of Serafina’s temperamental traits—her feistiness, her tenacity, her love of solving mysteries—so emotionally they’re really similar. For another, they both have a heavy dose of extrasensory perception, and they both never, ever give up.
2. If you could invite any writer from history over for supper, what would you eat and what would you talk about? It would have to be the queen of crime, Agatha Christie, and I wouldn’t attempt to cook for her; I’d go to an upscale bakery and buy pastries for a high tea and bone up on how to make a dish of tea and try to find out her favorite. And I’d ask her who her favorite characters are and what her favorite poison is and what were the tough scenes to write and if writing was any easier the more she wrote and if so, how.
3. The first book in the series, Too Quiet in Brooklyn, did not feature a teenage girl, while the next two books (as well as your new book, The Brooklyn Drop) did. Any reason for this change? That’s another brilliant question. And by the way, I’m almost done with the first draft of another book—it’s the first in a new series starring Lorraine McDuffy, Fina’s mother-in-law—and it involves the kidnapping of a teenage girl along with a murder. But to answer your question, I’m not sure why. The characters come to me and then they tell me their stories and I write about them. I think I am more and more fascinated with characters who survive terrible ordeals just short of death. And, like a violent or unexplained death a terrible ordeal fascinates us and changes us in a fundamental way.
4. What was your favorite non-writing job? Wow, I’ve had so many. I think my favorite was supporting McGraw-Hill’s production team and executives by helping them to solve technology problems. I loved the people, supporting over two thousand in a high rise in Manhattan for eleven years, and I continue to keep in touch with them and love technology, especially Apple’s OS X and iOS.
5. Do you have any pets? Two cats, and I love them both, and they help me so much. Matter of fact, one of them is the inspiration for Mr. Baggins, Fina’s cat.
6. Do you have any pet peeves (writing or otherwise)? I hate it when I’m stuck with a plot because no matter how much I plot and outline, the story changes and I get stuck and when I do, the characters are haunting and relentless and they’re, like, Where are you going with this? And they hammer to break free. But something Pope Francis said recently has helped me with that. (An unlikely source, I know.) When asked what he prays for in his own life, he said he prays for discernment. So I took that to heart—I love that word, discernment—and now I pray for the grace of discernment and take a walk and it helps.
7. Give us a peek onto your writing bucket list? Okay, so I’m starting a new series starring a woman more my age—Lorraine McDuffy. The mysteries are set in Brooklyn where my husband and I lived for many years. It’s the same place setting as in the Fina Fitzgibbons mysteries, and some of the characters are the same, too. And I’m also working on the fifth Fina book.
8. What does 'success' at writing look like for y ou? I can’t tell you how much it pleases me to know how much my readers appreciate my books. I write because I cannot not write, but it’s watching my reader base grow, that means a great deal to me. Making a profit and watching it grow because my base is growing doesn’t hurt, either.
9. If you went to a grade-school and spoke about the writing life, what advice would you give? Basically I’d ask them what they like to write about and when is the best time for them to write. I’d tell them what I wrote about as a child and that I write every day and when I worked, I’d get up early to write. I’d tell them that I begin talking to myself as if I were talking to a friend and then I write that down and that’s the best way for me to start a story, that and by asking myself “and then what happens next.” And I’d wind up by asking them about their favorite books.
This is the first day of Ms. Anderson's tour! If you click the banner above, you can visit the tour schedule, where you will find more reviews as well as a 2nd interview. While you're there, you can find out how to apply to be a reviewer for Great Escapes!
(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)