Brooklyn native and young widow Erica Donato wants to focus on her PhD research. But when her teenage daughter Chris finds a skeleton behind a wall in their crumbling Park Slope, Brooklyn, home, she and her daughter are both touched and disturbed by the mysterious tragedy. Are the remains more recent than they at first appear?
Chris' dangerous curiosity and Erica's work at a local history museum lead her right back to her neighborhood in its edgy, pregentrification days, when the age of Aquarius was turning dark. A cranky retired reporter shares old files. The charming widow of a slumlord has some surprises. The crazy old lady who hangs around Erica's street keeps trying to tell her something, and the people who know the whole story will stop at nothing to make sure it stays buried forever....
An unconvincing sleuth mars this first in a new mystery series from Stein (Murder at the Class Reunion). In the course of a renovation of widow Erica Donato's Brooklyn townhouse, the discovery of a young girl's skeletal remains behind a wall upsets Erica's 15-year-old daughter, Chris. Chris, who can't help identifying with the dead girl ("She had her favorite music, like me, and her jewelry, and even a bear"), insists that her mother allow her to investigate the circumstances that led to the girl's death. Chris throws a tantrum when Erica reasonably refuses, but manages to persuade her to have a family friend who's an ex-cop follow up with the police. That request eventually leads to tragedy, and gives the single mother, a graduate student specializing in Brooklyn history, a fresh crime to solve. The implausibly na ve Erica makes suspension of disbelief difficult, and predictable plot developments don't help.