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Book Review: The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter – Fascinating Novel and Author

The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter

By Linda Lo Scuro

Recently retired, Maria has extra time on her hands. While her husband Humphrey spends his days working as an investment banker, she now has to find other things to occupy her time. Her daughters are grown and out on their own, so when Maria’s cousin calls and asks her to check in on her aunt, she reluctantly agrees. For years Maria has kept her distance from her family. There are some shady dealings dating back several generations connecting them to the Mafia. All Maria knows for sure is that one of her aunts and mother despised her and abused her as a child leaving her bitter and a bit afraid of them.

When visiting the aunt that was kind to her as a child, Maria finds herself falling into the family business. Just on the fringe shouldn’t hurt anything. Besides she has a few scores to settle and her aunt has offered help. As she spends more time with her aunt, Maria begins to slide into the habits of the previous generations. She can solve problems that others are having with the help of family. She tries to keep her extended family away from her husband and children; there is no need for them to know the history she has always hidden. But when one of her immediate family makes an irreversible decision, help from the Mafia may be the only way to right the wrong. Or at least cover it up.

I loved this book. The transformation of Maria was remarkable to read. Ms. Lo Scuro does a fantastic job filling in the sordid past of Maria’s family and blending it in with the present day characters. Will visiting her Sicilian family turn this upper-middle class Brit into the person she has always feared she may become? Perhaps it was inevitable.

Linda Lo Scuro is as mysterious as Maria. Because this was the first book I’ve read by this author, I Googled her name to find out more about her. What I found out about Linda Lo Scuro is exactly what she wants us to know. This is not her real name and she will not be giving interviews. You can follow her on social media under her pseudonym, but her real persona will not be revealed. I admire her decision as well as her determination to stay anonymous amid the clamor of writing a truly remarkable and memorable novel. I think she is as interesting as her novel, which makes this a double win in my reading world.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Brooklyn Secrets: History + Mystery = Superb Story

Brooklyn SecretsBrooklyn Secrets

An Erica Donato Mystery

by Triss Stein

Erica Donato is juggling many things in her life. She works part time, is working on her dissertation and is the single mother of a teenage daughter. Like many thirty something women in her situation she is casually dating a couple of men, but she honestly has too much going on to look for a serious romance.

Her daughter, Chris, is wise and mature beyond her years. She takes school seriously and gives Erica little to worry about. But of course mothers always worry – even when your daughter is almost perfect.

Erica is knee deep in researching Brownsville in the 1930s. She is from Brooklyn herself, so her dissertation research is close to home for her. Criminals ran Brownsville in the 1930s as thugs with and without guns could make people disappear and never be seen again.

She decides to go to the local library to do some field research. The information and connections she made at the library excited her, bringing life to the characters she was reading about in the archives. Erika found the library staff engaging and willing to tell her about Brownsville history as well as Brownsville today.

The discovery that thugs under the new name of gang members still ruled the streets of Brownsville was unsettling. The seriousness hit home with her as she was almost the victim of an attack. One of the young girls in the library was not as lucky. Her encounter landed her in the hospital. Soon another girl is attacked with a much worse outcome.

Erica bonds with the mother of Savanna, the hospitalized young woman. She continues her research, but soon she is looking at pictures, news stories and interviewing people with ties to the past and current crimes. Will the past meet the present? Will she be able to help find a killer? Will she become a target?

The characters were multi-layered and came alive with Stein’s dialog. I liked the fact that Erica didn’t remember to get dinner so she and Chris ate a smorgasbord of leftover takeout to clean out the fridge. Honestly, who hasn’t done that?  Chris also took the upper hand when it came to a bit of facebookish cyber stalking. Again, I could absolutely identify. I suspect anyone over 50 has asked a son, daughter or neighbor kid to help them do something on the internet. Secondary characters like the library workers and the scary people Erica encounters popped to life with mannerisms or comments.

Brooklyn Secrets is a fast-paced novel filled with spine-tingling suspense page after page. Stein states in her afterword, “…is a blend of actual history, possible history and complete fiction”. Like your favorite cup of coffee, it is the perfect blend – deliciously smooth with a kick of caffeine to keep you reading just one more chapter. This is the third in the series, but the first one I’ve read. It worked perfectly well as a stand-alone novel. I will go back and read Brooklyn Bones and Brooklyn Graves because I thoroughly enjoyed Stein’s writing style.

Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

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