cover image All Emergencies, Ring Super

All Emergencies, Ring Super

Ellen Emerson White, Author Thomas Dunne Books $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-15651-0

Dana Coakley, a New York city actress with some theater experience and some TV commercial success, makes a memorable debut as an amateur sleuth in this hard-edged cozy. Dana works as a super at her apartment building and volunteers at Second Chance, a small alternative school for disadvantaged kids on the Upper West Side. Young Travis Williams, one of the worst kids in the school, tells her that the hotel fire which made his family homeless (and killed several children and two firefighters) was arson, not an accident as reported. After a few innocent, hesitant steps toward looking into the matter, Dana finds herself kidnapped and battered and threatened with gang-rape and murder. Although daunted, she can't abandon her pursuit and, aided by a wise-cracking coterie of friends, Dana cracks her first case and gets a start on a new career. White's able supporting cast includes a lady firefighter, two sidekicks (sarcastic, literary Peggy and acting pal Valerie, who's ready for any adventure), a policeman and a boyfriend in the prosecutor's office. Punchy dialogue and good interplay among the lead characters should earn this series a large audience. (June)