Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Death of a Brooklyn Landlord by Susan Russo Anderson - #review

When newly widowed Lorraine McDuffy gets a call in the middle of the night, it’s not the ghost of her dead husband on the line, but the trembling voice of an old flame, Frank Rizzo, a local butcher. He’s found the battered body of rent-gouging Brooklyn landlord Viktor Charnov. Felled by blunt trauma to the back of his head, the victim lies in the fetal position in the back of Frank’s shop, a pork chop clenched between his teeth. The distraught butcher asks Lorraine to investigate.

As the story moves through the entangled web left behind by the landlord’s evil dealings, Lorraine searches for Viktor’s estranged wife as well as a missing teen with ties to the landlord, believed to have jumped in despair from the Brooklyn Bridge two months earlier. Along the way, Lorraine spars with Detective First Grade Jane Templeton and cares for the victim’s ten-year-old son, baseball-loving Joey Charnov, while she searches for his mother. And despite her guilt, Lorraine and Frank deepen their relationship in fits and starts.

If you’re a fan of Fina Fitzgibbons and her crew, you’ll recognize the main characters in this new series—Lorraine McDuffy, Fina’s mother-in-law and protagonist in charge of the Fina Fitzgibbons Detective Agency while Fina and Denny are on their honeymoon; detectives Jane Templeton and Willoughby, her partner Minnie, admin assistant at Lucy’s and now taking on a greater role in the agency; Cookie and her husband, Clancy; and a newcomer, Fina’s estranged father, Paddy Fitzgibbons, who creates his own boozy havoc as he tangles with Lorraine and Cookie.



The first Susan Russo Anderson book I read was one of the "Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn Mysteries", Too Quiet in Brooklyn.  Then, in 2015 I had the opportunity to read The Brooklyn Drop, and to interview the author!

With Fina's mother having passed away, and her father ... well, he recently showed up on Fina's doorstep after abandoning her and her mother when Fina was a child.  Luckily she has a great relationship with her soon-to-be inlaws, Lorraine and Robbie McDuffy.  But Fina and Denny are on their honeymoon, and Lorraine has been given the task of looking after the agency business.

I liked the dynamic in the previous books between Fina and Jane Templeton, Denny's erstwhile police partner.  There was plenty of antagonism, but when they were able to work together, they were an almost unstoppable team.  Well, this go-round its Lorraine and Jane.  I guess maybe Jane has some respect for Lorraine's age and experience and appreciates (at least to start!) that she does not appear to be as abrasive (that's probably Jane's word) as Fina.

Of course, I had liked Lorraine in the previous books, but I appreciated her even more in 'her' first book.  She has been a widow (RIP Robbie!) for just under a year, and she has several extra challenges pop up in "Landlord".  An old friend, Frank, with whom she nearly broke her marriage vows years before, calls up and wants her to investigate the dead body (the titular landlord) found dead in the back of his butcher shop.  Also, she takes in the 10-year-old son of the 'victim' (whose mother disappeared shortly after he was born), in order to keep him out of the system.  And, as previously mentioned, she is watching after the detective agency for her daughter-in-law.

Quite a lot on her plate for anybody, let alone a recent widow.

Viktor Charnov is as slimy a villain as any I've read about in the past several years.  He was a landlord for several buildings in the Brooklyn borough.  He was a rent-gouger near-absentee landlord.  He beat his wife (his son Joey's mother).  He has been known to have beaten other women.  The other stuff you don't want to find out just before lunch, and I'll leave that thought there.  Only one person seemed to have anything nice to say about him, and that woman had a motive.  Additionally, someone offerred a cash reward to the murderer!  Of course, Viktor really brought it on himself.  I feel neither pity nor sympathy for such a sleaze.

If you like mysteries with a touch of thriller, add both the Lorraine McDuffy and Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn Mystery Series to your TBR!



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.



Click on the logo above to go the tours site, where you will find more reviews, as well as a guest post and an interview with the author!  You can also find out how to become a book reviewer for Great Escapes while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.  This post contains affiliate links.)

This book helps me fulfill the following 2016 reading challenges:


  1. Thanks, LuAnn, for your wonderful review of Death of a Brooklyn Landlord. Lorraine would thank you, too, but she and Frank are in Chicago (of all places) solving another mystery.

  2. Good to hear, Susan. With those two on the case, it won't be a mystery for long. ;)