I’m a county police detective in a place that’s postcard pretty. Lots of rolling hills, horse farms and Victorian villages. At least that’s what everybody sees when they first take the train up here from New York City. That, and all the snow. We get a lot of snow.
It takes a while to realize the horse farms are all owned by Wall Street CEOs and the villages are full of day spas and restaurants that cost like you’re refinancing your mortgage. It takes even longer to realize that there’s a whole other group of people living here in a parallel universe. A shadow population, I guess you’d say. They’re the immigrants who tend the lawns, care for the children and bus the dishes of the more well-heeled residents in our county. Most are from Latin America. A lot of them are undocumented.
Their lives are anything but postcard pretty.
I’m the cop they call upon to straddle the divide. I guess it’s because I understand both worlds. I was born in a tenement in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican mother. I spoke Spanish before I spoke English. My father split when I was two and we barely scraped by on my mom’s salary as a licensed practical nurse. When I was eleven, my mom, worried about the gangs in our neighborhood, moved us up here to a little town called Lake Holly. I went from being just another brown face in the neighborhood to being the only brown face in a place that, back then, still got its Latin culture from watching reruns of I Love Lucy. So I know a thing or two about what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land even if my family and I have never been anything but American.
I’ve worked hard to fit into the world I’ve been dropped into. Growing up, I wanted to be a guitarist in a rock band. But I ditched those dreams when my girlfriend—later wife, later ex-wife—got pregnant. I got a steady job as a cop instead. I let my ex, a psychologist, raise our daughter Joy, now eighteen, in her Jewish faith. For years, I sort of pushed my Latin culture to the side. But then my mother was murdered in a botched robbery that went unsolved. I felt a sudden yearning to reconnect to the things she held so dear. Soon after that, I fell in love with this great woman, Adele Figueroa. She’s Ecuadorian-American and the daughter of undocumented immigrants. She ditched her Harvard Law School degree to found and run an outreach center for immigrants. She’s helping me come to terms with all the conflicts I have, both with myself as a Hispanic cop, and with the people I deal with on both sides of the immigration divide.
It isn’t easy. Often it feels like Adele and I are playing for opposing teams. The sparks fly between us because my job is to uphold the law and her job is to help people who, by their very existence in this country, are breaking the law. Being in love with her and being true to myself means I’m constantly torn between my duty and my conscience, between the boy I once was and the cop I am now. Sometimes, I get it right. Sometimes, I don’t.
Like that night in December. The toughest night of my life. Every cop’s worst nightmare. My whole career—my whole life—came down to one brief encounter with a suspect in that moonlit woods. There were no witnesses. No one to say whether the choices I made were the right ones—or the only ones. I had two seconds to decide.
I’ll let you be the judge of everything that happened after that.
No Witness But the Moon is the third book in the Jimmy Vega mystery series published by Kensington, November 2016.
A tense standoff in the woods between a police officer and an undocumented immigrant leads to the shooting death of one, the shattered life of the other, and the shocking connection between them that will imperil everything each has staked their world on. . .
On a clear moonlit night in December, county police detective Jimmy Vega races to the scene of a reported armed home invasion and corners the suspect in the woods. But when the man refuses to surrender—and reaches into his pocket instead—Vega has only two seconds to make a life-or-death decision . . .
What begins as a tragic mistake takes an even darker turn when Vega uncovers disturbing links between the dead man and his own mother’s brutal unsolved murder nearly two years ago. Vega’s need for answers soon propels him back to his old Bronx neighborhood where he is viewed as a disgraced cop, not a homegrown hero. It also puts him at odds with his girlfriend, Adele Figueroa, a lawyer and head of a local immigrant center, who harbors her own doubts about his behavior.
When a shocking piece of evidence surfaces, it becomes clear that there may be someone else who doesn’t want Vega to put all the pieces together, either—someone willing to do whatever it takes to bury the truth. Only by risking everything will Vega be able to find justice, redemption, and the most elusive gift of all: the ability to forgive himself.
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Meet the author
Suzanne Chazin’s critically acclaimed Jimmy Vega series has been called, “required reading” (Publisher’s Weekly, Starred review) with “three-dimensional characters’ readers care about” (Library Journal, Starred review). The first book in the series, Land of Careful Shadows, was chosen by the American Library Association as one of the top five genre mystery books of the year. Book #2, A Blossom of Bright Light, was an Amazon Mystery pick of the month. Book #3, No Witness But the Moon, was just released in November and hailed by William Kent Krueger as a book that “makes mystery readers rave and mystery writers jealous.” The series was inspired by Chazin’s work at an immigrant outreach center in suburban New York. Chazin is also the author of the award-winning Georgia Skeehan/FDNY mystery series (The Fourth Angel, Flashover and Fireplay) that USA Today called, “searing and emotionally explosive.” Connect with Suzanne at suzannechazin.com.
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