cover image ISLAND OF TEARS


Troy Soos, . . Kensington, $23 (280pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-767-6

For his seventh novel, the popular author of the Mickey Rawlings baseball mysteries changes venue and century. Hoping to fatten his meager Harper's Weekly stipend, Marshall Webb is looking for a plot for a new dime novel; his quest for a proper heroine takes him to Ellis Island in January, 1892, to meet the first immigrant ship to dock there. He finds in Christina van der Waals, a 14-year-old Dutch girl, the perfect candidate for his "girl makes good" story line; unfortunately, somewhere between Ellis Island and Manhattan, she disappears. Webb then locates her cousin, "opera singer" (read: exotic dancer) Liz Luck, whom Christina had said was to meet her, and learns that Liz was unaware of the young girl's plans. Liz's husband, a crooked cop named Gleason, throws Webb out and he heads back to the ferry terminal, determined to find Christina. His efforts lead him to Rebecca Davies, whose wealthy family funds Colden House, a haven for young women. Rebecca opens his eyes to the tragic fates of so many immigrant girls, and they join forces to search the filthy underworld of sweatshops and brothels, falling in love in the process. Rebecca's money helps pull the duo from some nasty scrapes as they face considerable personal dangers—including Christina's abductor. Soos (Murder at Ebbets Field) captures the period handsomely as the couple bridges both moneyed and penniless worlds in this time of Tammany Hall corruption and naïve immigrants arriving in boatloads to encounter difficult odds and uncertain futures. The solid plot and well-researched background help to carry the tale, even though Soos never builds the suspense the novel calls for. Still, history buffs will enjoy this look at a harsh transitional period in New York history. Agent, Meredith Bernstein.(Nov. 6)