Here’s the summary:
In the middle of a wintry night, private investigator Fina Fitzgibbons finds Lorraine’s friend Phyllida Oxley slumped over her dining room table, the victim of memory-impairing date-rape drugs. When her condition goes from poor to comatose, her distraught fifteen-year-old granddaughter, Kat Oxley, disappears. Meanwhile, Fina’s agency is busy surveilling a massage parlor in Bensonhurst suspected of human trafficking, and Fina’s father reappears to throw a wrench into her relationship with NYPD Patrol Officer Denny McDuffy. As Fina frantically searches for the missing teen, she uncovers the truth behind the traffickers, but they have a surprise waiting for her in the not-so-friendly skies.
It all started with icicles. The holidays were over. Our life was back to normal. Normal, as in a boring string of days between jobs except for a small surveillance gig watching a Bensonhurst massage parlor suspected of being involved in human trafficking. After an evening at the McDuffys’ during which I watched Denny and his father make fools of themselves over some obscure football game, I thanked Lorraine for the scrumptious meal, and we headed for home, braving a howling wind off the shores of South Brooklyn.
The cold must have zapped both of us since we decided to make it an early night. Denny hit the pillow and was out. As I peered outside before closing the bedroom blinds, I was stopped dead by a glinting across the street. I’d never seen such a large chunk of suspended ice, at least not in this part of Brooklyn. Thick at the top and coming to a point at the bottom, it hung from the neighbor’s overhang like a blade, almost touching the ground. I’d phone them the next day and suggest they might want to remove it before their roof caved. But I never got the chance.
About three in the morning I woke with a start when my iPad suddenly came to life, covering my corner of the room with a grizzly light. Some unwanted tweet, I figured. I rolled over. Denny slept on. Again the screen lit up. My heart raced, not with fear but with excitement—I’m such a glutton for work. Focusing, I read the message. It was from Lorraine. “Call me ASAP.” Then it disappeared.
I went to the window. The neighborhood was a hard dark except for a wash of light over the Manhattan skyline, the winking bridge lights, and a hazy sliver of moon over the harbor. The neighbor’s gigantic icicle gleamed.
When I called her, I could tell Lorraine was anxious. She talked so fast, I barely got every other word. Apparently her friend Phyllida Oxley needed help.
“Particulars?” I asked.
I heard Lorraine take a breath. “Why would she be calling me in the middle of the night? She’s never done that, not in all the years I’ve known her. She said one word, ‘Help,’ before we were disconnected. Her voice sounded so strange.”
“You sure it was your friend?”
Lorraine answered in the affirmative. “I’ve got the key to her four-flat. It’s across the street from us. Meet me there. Hurry!”
I shook Denny. He didn’t move.
“Your mom needs us,” I whispered into his ear and stroked it with my lips.
He smiled and continued sleeping.
My BMW was parked a block away, and Denny’s car was in front of our house. “Can I drive your Jeep?”
Magic words. He was up like a shot, dressed, and checking his Glock before I could stuff my snoop bag with the usual—booties, latex gloves, plastic bags, flashlight, magnifying glass, notebook, pen, iPad, and two smartphones. Overkill, probably. We pummeled down the stairs and into the Jeep. Denny drove like the off-duty cop he was, ignoring all red lights, so we made it from Vinegar Hill to Third Place in less than five minutes.
After we parked, I noticed a pair of backup lights down the block shrouded in exhaust. In a second, the car slotted into a space. The engine stopped and a figure, dark and hunched, got out and seemed to stare at us. I turned away from it, my attention arrested by something else—another long bone of ice. This one dangled from Phyllida Oxley’s gutter. Denny was unimpressed when I pointed it out. But as we started down the walk, I heard footsteps, maybe in the alley or the backyard, and suddenly the icicle exploded, shattering at our feet.
It publishes this Saturday, August 15, but you can pre-order it now on Amazon.
Photo: Cover, The Brooklyn Drop, Avalon Graphics