cover image Heading Uptown

Heading Uptown

Marissa Piesman. Delacorte Press, $18.95 (247pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30537-2

Nina Fischman, a public service lawyer for the elderly, carries on the Rhoda Morganstern tradition of witty Jewish Manhattanites with husbandless homes and easily stirred sympathies (``Everything that happened to anybody anywhere was a concern. It made it difficult to prioritize''). Serving as executor of her mother's best friend's estate, Nina plunges into her third sleuthing adventure (following Personal Effects ) when she discovers a mystery surrounding the death of the deceased woman's son several months earlier. Her probe turns up a bunch of heartless rich people who dabble in adultery and questionable real estate deals. Relieving the fashionable ennui are a sad, smart, bulimic teenager and Nina's mother, a retired teacher who picked up not just a degree from Hunter College ca. 1939, but also a social conscience and an appreciation of ``the moving primitivism of Diego Rivera and the agitprop drama of Clifford Odets'' to match. These two characters, along with the disarming Nina, a solid plot, snappy prose and attorney Piesman's knowledge of New York City real estate and ethnic echelons, almost make the reader overlook her occasional inattention to what she has written a few pages earlier. (Feb.)