Death of an Amiable Child

Irene Marcuse, Author
Irene Marcuse, Author Walker & Company $23.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3346-7
Hardcover - 978-1-84782-555-1
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-373-26433-9
Hardcover - 223 pages - 978-0-7090-8076-3
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Social worker and transplanted Californian Anita Servi, her cabinetmaker husband, Bruno, and their adopted daughter, Clea, live in a prewar co-op on Manhattan's Upper West Side in this compassionate debut novel. Many of Anita's elderly neighbors are clients at her agency at the nearby Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A typical crazed Monday morning turns even more chaotic when Clea discovers the body of a homeless woman, known only as Lillian, on a landing in the co-op. The local police believe she died from a fall. Not convinced, Anita decides to investigate and becomes embroiled in the doings at the building where Lillian lived, seeing clients and avoiding the management, who have their reasons for not wanting her around. Anita eventually learns that Lillian had some good jewelry and a lot of money as well, so why did she live that way? What was she scared of, and why did she spend a lot of time in Riverside Park at the grave of the Amiable Child? As she asks around, Anita discovers that many seniors are afraid of losing their apartments and are being threatened and intimidated. The tough ones remain, but at what cost? Anita and her family enjoy life in an increasingly gentrified neighborhood, where longtime tenants and newcomers with conflicting values and philosophies must navigate the political minefield of co-op life. Bravo to Marcuse, herself a savvy West Sider with a degree in social work, for this entertaining and engrossing puzzle that also calls attention to serious unresolved social problems. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June)
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