A day in the life of Erica Donato by Triss Stein

All I really wanted to do was finish my dissertation. I would have a PhD in urban history if I could ever get to the end of my work on how Brooklyn neighborhoods change. It seemed like a good idea when I began. Now, not so much. My questions kept turning up people who had secrets they were determined to keep hidden forever. And my own life kept happening too. I was a single mother of a lovely, exasperating teen-age girl. My old house badly needed work. My occasional romantic life was mostly confusing.

The biggest distraction was that those Brooklyn neighborhoods were changing so fast, I could not keep up. Chapters of my work seemed outdated before I even finished writing them. My advisor was insisting I draw a line on the research and get my conclusion written, but there was always something I could not pass up. Just one more issue. Or incident. Or development. Or mystery.

I should have listened to her. Instead I went to a community meeting about the ongoing fate of the famous Brooklyn Navy Yard. In recent decades, it had been famous only as the scary, hard to find place where New Yorkers retrieved impounded cars, but it had a long and glorious history. Great ships were built there, including the Maine and the Arizona. During World War II it was a powerful engine for victory, operating around the clock., employing 70,000 men and – most interesting- women too, real life Rosie the Riveters. What historian could ignore the efforts to bring it back to productive life? Not this historian.

So I went to the meeting and it was contentious from the start, a battleground of different Brooklyns. Hipsters, gentrifiers, project residents, they were all there. And this is Brooklyn. Everyone in Brooklyn has an opinion. Only when a tough, abusive old man took charge was it calm enough to hear the official speakers.

Before I left, I wanted to sneak a peek at the rest of the yard, a significant underused piece of prime New York real estate. I’ve had better ideas. In no time the noisy meeting was behind me and the six lanes of circling expressway traffic was out of sight and almost out of hearing. I was alone on a dimly –lit road beside ghostly, deserted buildings.

And then I wasn’t alone after all. I saw something I should not have seen, and the next sound I heard was my own voice screaming.

Someone died that night, a prominent man with a lot of enemies. I didn’t know, then, that I had a connection to some of them, that my daughter’s family history project would immerse me ever deeper me in a Navy Yard story, and that I was about to learn far more than I could write about in my dissertation.


You can read more about Erica in Brooklyn Wars, the fourth book in the “Erica Donato” mystery series.

From the earliest days of the Republic until the administration of LBJ, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was, proudly, both an arsenal of democracy, in FDR’s words, and the creator of 70,000 local jobs. In time it became best known as the scary place New Yorkers had to locate to rescue their impounded cars. And then it came back to life, but not without a war.

A public meeting becomes a battleground over plans to redevelop the once-proud Brooklyn Navy Yard. Local residents clamor for their own agenda in redeveloping 300 acres overlooking a sparkling downtown Manhattan, while business and real estate experts argue and city officials cower. Erica Donato, still writing her PhD dissertation about changes in city neighborhoods, witnesses the shocking murder of a power-broker that night on the Yard’s condemned Admirals’ Row.

Erica uncovers the dead man’s complicated history with the Yard, with his road to wealth and a high-flyer lifestyle, and with his wives and mistresses. When her daughter, Chris, visits her father’s relatives for a family history project, Erica goes along, and learns that the Donato clan was involved in the Navy Yard’s glory days and its slow, politics-ridden death. The story of Aunt Philomena, tall and blond, one of the proud Brooklyn girls who built ships in the Yard during World War II, captivates her. After the U.S. victory these women were told to give their jobs back to the men coming home. Philomena, so strong, so happy, mysteriously faded away and died young.

Under pressure to drop her chapter on the Naval Yard and finish her PhD dissertation on a final deadline, as well as from the police to step aside for safety, Erica once again discovers “what’s past is prologue” to murder. . .and to her life.

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About the author
Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York farm country who has spent most of her adult life in Brooklyn. She writes mysteries about different Brooklyn neighborhoods and their unique histories, in her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. In the new book, Brooklyn Wars, murder gets in the way as heroine, Erica Donato researches the proud history and slow death of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of one of the first three books (Brooklyn Bones, Brooklyn Graves or Brooklyn Secrets) in the “Erica Donato” series, (U.S. residents only), winner’s choice. The giveaway will end August 9, 2017. Good luck everyone!

29 responses to “A day in the life of Erica Donato by Triss Stein

  1. Linda Herold

    I would LOVE to win a copy! Thanks for offering this chance!! lindaherold999@gmail.com

  2. What a wonderful feature and giveaway which interests me greatly. Thanks.

  3. I have Brooklyn Secrets buried somewhere in my TBR boxes. So If I’m the lucky winner I think I’d like Brooklyn Bones so I can start from the beginning. LOL

  4. Sounds like a good read. Nice c over.
    Good luck with it.

    • Sandra Cody, thank you for the comment about the cover. Due to changes at the publisher this cover was a scramble and it’s encouraging to read that you liked it.

  5. I haven’t read any of this series. I would love to start with this one.

  6. I have actually had to reclaim an impounded car there!

    • Elizabeth Dodd: Wow. Scary, I bet. That is for sure how many people remember it. You’d be surprised at how is has changed. It’s just humming with productive activity.

  7. New Author to me…I would love to enter thank you.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  8. This sounds like a good one.

  9. Interesting premise. Setting in a Naval yard and neighborhood. I would love to read one of these.

  10. I have never read this series or this author. Sounds very intriguing. If I win, I would love to win a paper copy of the 1st title in the series. Thank you for the chance!

  11. Hello, everyone: I am so happy to meet you here in digital world and appreciate your comments. If your name is pulled, you could have an earlier books in the series, in case you like to start with the beginning of a series, or a copy of Brooklyn Wars. They are not all about the Navy Yard, just this one, but they all have a lot of history.The earlier ones are about a brownstone neighborhood before gentrification, about the beautiful,historic Green-Wood Cemetery and young people in very rough Brownsville. Best to all
    Triss

  12. MaryAnn Forbes

    This is a new author to me; her series sounds great. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
    Thank you Dru Ann for sharing and introducing us to books that we may, if not through you, never have become aware.📚

  13. This is a new author to me. I really enjoyed the description of the book and I’m definitely adding the series to my TBR list.

  14. Linda Holland

    Really looking forward to reading these stories as I know there is a lot going on in Brooklyn all the time.
    Thanks for the chance to win a giveaway

  15. New-to-me author!! Looking forward to giving this series a try. Thanks for the chance to win a print copy of Brooklyn Bones–I’m definitely one of those people who MUST read series in order! LOL

  16. I want to know more about the navy yard story & who the victim is.

  17. Enjoyed the post – love mysteries set in New York.

  18. Doward Wilson

    Enjoyed this post very much. Another author & series to add to my Wish List.

  19. Penny Tuttle

    Looking forward to reading this series – your post really intrigued me. Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. I love this series! Triss does such a great job bringing the history alive and blending it into the characters’ lives. I can’t wait to read what new part of Brooklyn and its history I’m going to read about with each new book.

  21. I had not heard of this author and series so thanks for the introduction.

  22. Pauline Barlow

    Using a section of a great city like NYC especially Brooklyn for the location of a mystery series is a great idea. These books will be so interesting to read.

  23. Cynthia Blain

    Missed the deadline due to no time online with three grandchildren to care for all week. The books sounds great. Best of luck.

  24. **** WINNERS ****
    Brooklyn Bones is johnnabooks
    Brooklyn Bones is LindaMH
    Congratulations!

  25. **** WINNER ****
    Brooklyn Wars is Kathy Reel
    Congratulations!