Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein

SECRETS
Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (231 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Erica Donato, Brooklyn girl, urban history grad student and single mom, is researching the 1930s when Brownsville was the home of the notorious organized criminals the newspapers called Murder Inc. She quickly learns that even in rapidly changing Brooklyn, Brownsville remains much as it was. It is still poor, it is still tough, and it still breeds fighters and gangs. Doing field research, Erica stops in at the landmark local library and meets Savanna, a young woman who is the pride of her mother and her bosses, and headed for an elite college and a future. A few days later, Savanna is found beaten and left for dead. Her anguished mother is everywhere, insisting someone knows something. After a massive, angry demonstration, a young girlfriend of Savanna s is found dead, too. Is there a connection? Did perfect Savanna have a few secrets? Erica s curious. But she s focused on the 1930s and has located a few women who are happy to share memories. Two are childhood friends who disagree on much but guard secrets, too ones kept for a lifetime. Never one to resist looking deeper than her research requires, Erica keeps encountering an apparent derelict white man, a vengeful rejected girlfriend, the role of boxing as a way out of poverty, and fading evidence of long-ago crimes.

She’s doing a thesis on Brooklyn in the past. That involves looking into the people who were around then and their activities. When she finds an old file with photographs that depict life at that time, she starts trying to identify them.

The author has a good knowledge of Brooklyn. She talks about the past and the buildings that are gone as well as about the ones that still stand. She adds in the criminal element that is still present today. When she adds in a murder, too, it starts to get even more interesting.

Inner city gangs are still around. In earlier days they were different nationalities but the crime and fear squads have always been there. When Erica goes to the local library to do research, four black boys harass her. Luckily, the museum guard comes to her rescue.

Even when they know who attacked a young black girl, nothing can be done. They have solid alibis even if they are lies. Life starts to get dangerous in the ‘hood. When the next girl shows up dead, the case ramps up. While Erica is concerned about the girls, she also dealing with two oldsters who lived in the neighborhood in the time period she’s researching. One of them asks her to find out what happened to her brother. The two ladies are good friends but they fight as much as they get along.

This is a good look at what things are like in the poorer sections of town. Nowadays it happens in the heart of the city as well. Everyone is searching for power, money, and more. The story is good, the motives are mixed and the killer was a surprise. This isn’t any happily ever after but it is life. I’d read another in this series.

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