Erica Donato’s Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein

Brooklyn SecretsIt began most respectably, that day, the day I met gifted young Savanna, some kind library workers, and some menacing young men. I had a most respectable, even boring, goal: start the next chapter of my dissertation in urban history, specifically on how Brooklyn neighborhoods changed over time with changing populations. A good idea, right, for a Brooklyn girl, born and bred?

I needed a chapter on Brownsville, a neighborhood as ungentrified now as it was from its very beginning. Always struggling, always poor, whatever the population. Only the accents and the skin color changed. I had collected some research, some thought-provoking photos, and re-read a classic book, a literary memoir about growing up there that was as vivid now as the day it was published. My plan was to get in the mood by going out there, looking at some of the places that remain, looking at what has changed, taking some photos. I didn’t know it then, but that book would also lead me to the author’s sister and both living stories and buried memories about old Brownsville.

As to modern Brownsville? OK. Maybe I knew it was not exactly the mundane activity I told myself it was. I’ll admit my instinct was not to tell anyone where I was going– not my dad, not my teen-age daughter, not my adviser- because I knew what the reaction would be. True, it has one of the highest crime rates in New York but I was going anyway. I wasn’t interested in hearing any commentary.

To my delight, I found the charming branch library that was built back in the thirties. In fact, it was originally the Brownsville Children’s Library. I met those nasty youngsters on my way in to look around and ask questions. I think they accosted me just for fun. Their idea of fun, not mine. I soon learned they had been harassing the young library assistant who was assigned to show me around. That was Savanna, shy and smart, whose college scholarship was being celebrated that very day. I was invited to have a piece of cake and join the proud moment.

A few days later, she was found beaten and left for dead in a vacant lot. When I saw her mother on TV, insisting someone must know the truth, I realized we had been classmates years ago. We were both struggling single mothers, taking the bus to Brooklyn College just as we had done for high school.

We weren’t friends, didn’t even know each other, but I sure remembered her. She was someone you didn’t forget, in spite of the years, the now grown-up clothes and hairstyle and responsible job.

So I did what any mother of a teen would do in the circumstances, and reached across the decade gone, and the fact that she would not remember me, and wrote: How can I help?

It all started first day, when I began to learn more than I ever expected about how Brownsville is now; and how it is like, and not like, Brownsville then; how young people struggle, now and then, to make hope when there is no hope; how I made new friends out of a long-ago fellow student and two very old ladies with long memories and untold stories.

You can read more about Erica in Brooklyn Secrets, the third book in the “Erica Donato” mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press. The first two books in the series are Brooklyn Bones and Brooklyn Graves.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on December 24 for your chance to win a print copy of BROOKLYN SECRETS. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York farm country who has spent most of her adult life in New York the city. This gives her the useful double vision of a stranger and a resident for writing mysteries about Brooklyn neighborhoods in her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. The third, Brooklyn Secrets, is now available. In it, Erica find herself immersed in the old and new stories of tough Brownsville, and the choices its young people make.

Visit Triss at

33 responses to “Erica Donato’s Brooklyn Secrets by Triss Stein

  1. Sounds like another winner in this strong series.

  2. Sounds like a great book !

  3. I haven’t read any books in this series but I would like to. Thanks for a chance to enter.

  4. Good morning, everyone! Thank you for the early comments and encouragement from Debra, Lynne and Donna. I will be back during the day to say hello and answer any questions you’d care to ask. Triss

  5. This series is definitely going on my t-b-r list even if not a cozy.

    • Why, thank you, Gram. I like to think of my books as somewhere between “cozy’ and “hard boiled”. Urban cozies, perhaps. Like cozies,they are stories of crimes and relationships rather than professional criminals or random violence.

  6. I haven’t read any books in this series but I would like to. Thank you for introducing me to another author’s books.

  7. I haven’t read any of Triss’s books and this sounds like a good one to start with. I’m assuming the series doesn’t need to be read in order? Thanks Dru and Triss for the chance.

  8. Thanks for this captivating giveaway.

  9. Dru, I love your blog and the introduction to new authors/books. You provide a great service for all of us.

  10. Triss, the story is at once intriguing. I’ll enjoy this book whether it’s a giveaway or not.

  11. The varied neighborhoods of NY are always interesting. I’m a bit familiar with Brownsville from the 50s and 60s. Thanks for the update.

    • Since you are a little familiar with the setting, I would love to hear your reaction to Brooklyn Secrets. (Actually, I love to hear everyone’s reactions)

  12. Wow, Triss. Sounds like a wonderful story. Can’t wait to read it.

  13. That does sound like quite a story.

  14. It sounds like a great story. Lately, I have been drawn to Brooklyn as a setting for stories because my grandmother came from there. Thank you for the chance,

  15. Thanks for commenting, Carolee. Where was your grandmother from? Brooklyn neighborhoods are very different from each other, part of the original inspiration for this series. I don’t think I will ever run out of Brooklyn stories.

  16. Katrina Edwards

    I love finding a new author with a great story.

  17. An intriguing series. Thanks for sharing with us.

  18. elainehroberson

    Another new-to-me series to try. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  19. Sounds fascinating. I think my husband would even like. He has a degree in urban planning.

  20. Another introduction to a new book and series that sound like a good read.

  21. Brooklyn has so much appeal.

  22. It’s been fun and I hope to come back when the next book is out (fall, 2016?) Dru, thank you for inviting me, and thanks also to everyone who took the time to say hello. Happy reading! Triss

  23. Love this series. Can’t wait to read the latest book!

  24. Why, thank you Jane R! Happy to read this!

  25. Patricia Lafferty

    This sounds like such an interesting and informative series. Will definitely enjoy reading it.

  26. Thanks Triss for commenting and interacting with my readers.

    Contest is closed.