This novel is the second Erica Donato mystery, and, like the first, “Brooklyn Bones,” it’s not all about a contemporaneous crime, but involves the past. In a way, this is fitting, since the protagonist is working on a PhD in history. As in the first in the series, it takes place in Brooklyn, NY, home of the Green-Wood cemetery, where many Tiffany windows adorn mausoleums, and Brighton Beach, home to numerous Russian immigrants and nicknamed Little Odessa.
The plot involves the murder of a Russian immigrant, Erica’s friend and the father of her daughter’s friend, whose second job was as a night watchman at the Green-Wood cemetery, and the theft of a Tiffany window from one of its mausoleums. This gives the author the opportunity to delve into history, as she reviews century-old letters of an artist who worked for the famed glassmaker.
The story moves a bit slowly, weighed down by Erica’s personal life, complicated by her widowhood, the pressures of her studies, her own insecurities, and the raising of her 15-year-old daughter. But in the end, as Thomas Wolfe wrote, “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.” Yet Triss Stein is carving out that territory as her own.