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by Triss Stein
Poisoned Pen Press, December 2019
224 pages
ISBN: 1492699349

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Erica Donato, an urban historian, is investigating the mystery of a long-lost plaque that identified the Brooklyn Heights building where Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was printed—Whitman himself had helped set the type—when she's pulled into another ongoing conflict.

Longtime resident Louisa Gibbs is fighting her next-door neighbor—the Jehovah's Witnesses and their Watchtower Society—over a land boundary issue. Louisa, a preservationist, has long been Erica's idol, so when Louisa asks for help researching the history of her house in order to prepare for a court battle, Erica is more than happy to do so. But the dispute soon ratchets up in intensity. First, Daniel Towns, who is handling real estate matters for the church, begins to receive poisoned pen letters. As does Louisa. From there, matters only worsen, with arson and murder.

Local police are too overburdened with work, so the investigating sergeant asks Erica to dig into the past and find more background information. Erica hesitates for only a second before agreeing to help police. Despite her juggling multiple responsibilities—her teenaged daughter, Chris; her job at a Brooklyn museum; a sample chapter she needs to write for an interested publisher; and her deepening relationship with her boyfriend, Joe—Erica finds time for the investigation. She scours old papers, but also tracks down those who might have the untold stories of a neighborhood.

The fifth in a series, BROOKLYN LEGACIES mixes in real historical facts with fictional protagonists. Brooklyn Heights, an affluent neighborhood with elaborate brownstones and quaint brick row houses, also has a colorful past—which serves to deepen this mystery. Although Brooklyn Heights is just off the famed Brooklyn Bridge, it's not a setting often found in fiction, so it was interesting—and informative—to read about this neighborhood's past. History fans will enjoy this walk through the New York borough.

§ Lourdes Venard is an independent editor who divides her time between New York and Maui.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, December 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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