Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery, Spotlight on August 15, 2016

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death and disappearance
Death and Disappearance (A Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn Mystery)
5th in Series
Self Published (May 30, 2016)
File Size: 682 KB
Print Length: 272 pages


While Denny battles demons of his own and Cookie and Clancy disappear, a pregnant Fina Fitzgibbons investigates the death of her friend’s husband and in doing so lands in the middle of a group of art and drug traffickers.


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Guest Post

Today I would like to welcome, Fina Fitzgibbons to StoreyBook Reviews!  I always love hearing from the characters and am thrilled to have Fina here with us today.  So with no further ado – take it away Fina!

Fina Finds a Body

Thanks for having me on your site, Leslie. I’m Fina Fitzgibbons, and my mystery series is set in Brooklyn. I’m a little nervous: give me a juicy case with a distraught client and I’m fine, but standing here and seeing all of you, so smart-looking and all, well, I get tongue tied. Anyway, I thought you might like to hear how I got started in the detecting business. It was like this, see, I saw a body right on the sidewalk in front of the brownstone where I grew up. Let me tell you about it—it’s the first scene in my first book, Too Quiet in Brooklyn.

Mom would call it a 9/11 morning—no sirens, no fights, and a fresh breeze off the ocean wafting all the street gunk away. I knew something bad was about to happen. The feeling followed me most of the day, a stillness setting my teeth on edge. That afternoon when my best friend, Cookie, and I were walking down Henry Street toward the gym, I could feel the monster rumbling inside me.

“Is that a sack of laundry in front of your grill?” Cookie asked, pointing across the street to a dark lump in the middle of the sidewalk a few feet from my front gate.

I’d inherited a brownstone in Brooklyn. Growing up, we had a fine life, living in the parlor and basement, renting out the upper floors, but sometimes garbage cans rattled beneath my bedroom window in the middle of the night. I shook my head. “More like someone’s been rooting through our throwaways.”

I looked up at the leaves, thick with late afternoon light, sensing whatever it was on the sidewalk might be something of consequence, but I continued walking away from it, hoping Cookie’s curiosity would pass and the creepy feeling on the back of my neck would go away.

She tugged at my sleeve. “C’mon, let’s go over and take a look.”

“Forget it. We’ll be late for karate.” I stared at the mass on the sidewalk.

“Instructor’ll never know. Got his head up his own inner space.” Cookie stepped into the street, pulling me along with one hand while she texted with the other.

Sirens roared in the distance, and I hauled Cookie back to the curb just in time to avoid inline bladers slaloming down the street. The quiet had been broken, but the heap on the sidewalk hadn’t moved. It lay there, squat and foreboding, while I stared at its edges, my skin prickling with the knowledge of what I was about to get into.

I knew whatever lay near my front door was no ordinary debris. For one thing, my curls began pulling at my scalp, a definite sign of trouble. And for another, the pile sat on the exact spot where I’d found Mom’s body five years ago. The lump in my throat was killing me, but I looked around. No sounds except for the pounding in my ears.

As we drew closer, Cookie’s eyes widened. Covering her mouth, she leaned hard against a tree and closed her eyes.

It was a woman, or a specter dressed as a woman. She lay in a fetal position, neck and head burrowed into an oversized moth-bitten coat like a turtle hiding in its shell. The coat wasn’t hers, I’d bet money on it. It was black wool fading to bilious green, with padded shoulders and a fake leopard-skin collar. On her feet were patent leather flats that looked like they’d cost the better part of five hundred dollars. Both heels were evenly worn, and there were small creases on the toes, so her shoes weren’t new, just nicely broken in.

My heart pounded. I stepped back, took out my phone, and snapped a few photos. Slipping on evidence gloves, I tapped her shoulder. “Ma’am?”

No answer.

Then I pushed and pulled at the form until she turned onto her back. My forehead was soaked, but I had to know more. I undid the top buttons of the coat.

“Are you crazy?” Cookie asked. “Don’t touch anything. Denny’ll kill you.”

The dead woman had blonde hair going to gray pinned into a loose bun on the top of her head, strands falling out, I supposed from a recent struggle or just from someone shoving her into an old coat. All in all, though, well turned out for having just met a violent end. Hard to guess her age, but I’d say fifty at least. I felt for a pulse, but shouldn’t have bothered. By the startled look in her bloodshot eyes and her purple complexion, to say nothing about the bruising around her neck or her protruding tongue, I knew she was dead, and not from natural causes.

I felt such pity for her, such anger and revulsion at whoever had done this to her, to any human being, that I thought I was going to lose it. It was obvious to me she had been throttled somewhere else, wrapped in an old coat, and dumped here. But why here? Weren’t there better places in Brooklyn to get rid of a body? I mean, why use a main street in the Heights? I looked at her violated face, bloated but vaguely familiar.

From what I could see, she wore an expensive-looking black linen suit and, as if dressed for Halloween, yellow rubber gloves, the kind used for heavy scrubbing. I’d come this far, so I removed one of the gloves. Her hand was elegant and veined, folded into itself and fragile like a newborn bird, the fingernails recently manicured but one partially ripped off, a thread or a hair or something dangling from it. In my head I could hear Detective Jane Templeton yelling at me, and I wouldn’t blame her, but I couldn’t help it, and anyway they already had my prints and DNA on file from the last time. To my credit, I resisted looking through the woman’s pockets for ID.

“Stop touching her,” Cookie said. But for all her bluster, she bent over the body and stared at the woman, her attention arrested, her face crinkled into a frown, and her shoulders shuddering slightly. “Who’d want to kill an old lady like that? Did you see the rock she’s got on?”

I took out my phone and snapped a few more photos of the woman’s face, her neck, and several of her gloveless hand, getting a close-up of the ring, a square-cut sapphire surrounded by diamonds.

“Whoever killed her didn’t bump her off for the money, that’s for sure.”

A mom pushing a stroller filled with groceries and a couple of toddlers sideswiped us but didn’t stop or look down. The kids waved flags and smiled. I noticed a stream of pedestrians on the other side of the street, probably a late afternoon discharge from the subway up the street. They passed us without a blink, their minds fixed on home. A biker team sped by, not even giving us a downward glance. But why should they? Normal people were focused on their lives. It explained why a dead body could lie in the middle of a busy block for who knows how long and go unnoticed. Thinking of the passersby, a stab of envy shot through me—I could use a bagful of normal about now.

Despite Cookie’s bear claws yanking me by the shoulders, I kept gazing at the dead woman’s face, trying to place it. I squeezed my eyes shut. Pictures of another death steamrolled my mind—the deep jade sucked out of Mom’s eyes. Then I remembered where I’d seen this woman.

I called 911. “We’ve found a woman lying on the sidewalk. Henry Street between Joralemon and State. She’s not responding. Looks like she’s been strangled.” I texted Denny: “Need u here asap, dead body dumped in front of Lucy’s.”

I dropped to my knees again beside the battered form and stared at the woman’s face. When I closed my eyes, the shape of her head was etched against the void. “I won’t forget you, I promise. I’ll find your killer, I swear I will.”


Cover of Death and Disappearance by Avalon Graphics


About the Author

SusanRussoAnderson_for-webSusan 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 in the Fina Fitzgibbons Brooklyn mystery series published December 2013. The second book in the series,MISSING BRANDY, published September 2014, and WHISKEY’S GONE published in January 2015 and completes a trilogy. The fourth book in Fina’s series, THE BROOKLYN DROP, published August 2015.

DEATH OF A SERPENT, the first in the Serafina Florio series, published January 2012. It began as a painting of the Lower East Side, the landmark immigrant neighborhood in Manhattan, and wound up as a mystery story set in nineteenth-century Sicily. NO MORE BROTHERS, a novella, published May 2012, the second in the series. The third book, DEATH IN BAGHERIA, published in December, followed by MURDER ON THE RUE CASSETTE in January 2014.

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