Thursday, June 30, 2016

Silent City: a Claire Codella Mystery (Book Review)

Title: Silent City: a Claire Codella Mystery
Author: Carrie Smith
Publication: Crooked Lane, Hardcover, 2015
Genre: Mystery/suspense
Plot: Claire Codella, a NYC detective, is returning to her job after successfully battling cancer with months of chemo. On her first day back, she is assigned the murder of an elementary school principal, who was admired by everyone but his own staff. Self-conscious about her changed appearance and wondering if she is really ready for the stresses of the job, Claire is also aware that her supervisor resents the attention she received on an earlier case and will do her no favors if she can’t solve this crime quickly. Partnered with an appealing gay detective, Eduardo Munoz, who is also persona non grata with the bullies at the police precinct, Claire is plunged into the surprisingly cutthroat atmosphere of the Manhattan public school system as she investigates two murders, and navigates her way among teachers, parents, and coworkers.

Audience: Fans of suspense and of female detectives who don’t take garbage from anyone; I was actually reminded more of TV shows like Blue Bloods and NYPD Blue than of current mysteries but maybe that is because the sense of place was so strong.

My Impressions: This is a fast paced debut, full of interesting characters and their interrelationships, with a vivid and gritty New York setting. I like Claire, who has been through a tough time with her cancer treatment – and the one person she thought she could really rely on, her best friend and former partner, Brian Haggerty – never made it inside the hospital to visit her. Claire has learned to rely only on herself, so she has to learn all over again how to trust and when to ask for help or she will not survive a dangerous investigation:

She preferred the truth to gentle fantasy landings. During investigations she always gave the truth – as sensitively as possible, of course – to the families of the violently murdered.

Claire’s candor, her post-treatment symptoms, and her determination to handle a high profile case so well that even her unpleasant boss couldn’t complain make her a very sympathetic heroine.

I wondered if other cancer survivors would be interested in this book and identify with Claire or if they would prefer more escapism in their suspense fiction, so mentioned it to a coworker who fits that category and had just told me she wasn’t reading any more cozies! Well, this is not a cozy – there is plenty of bloodshed and the kind of language you would expect from police, so I am lending her my copy.

I liked the relationship developing between Claire and Munoz (he is taunted so unmercifully by the homophobic detectives in the Manhattan North homicide unit that I wanted to offer my legal services pro bono) and appreciated the desperate shame of her friend Haggerty who knows he let her down when she needed support. Maybe I guessed who the killer was halfway through the book but it was really about more than just finding a killer.   
Author Carrie Smith

Source: I put this on my list after reading a very favorable review in Publishers Weekly, and checked it out from the Brookline Library. According to Smith’s website, a second book is coming in December.  Recommended!


GSGreatEscaper said...

Love your redesign! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Carrie Smith said...

Thanks so much for this review! Really appreciate it.
Book 2, FORGOTTEN CITY, comes out on December 13th.
But you can read sample chapters right now at

Candy said...

This book kept me reading for hours at a time. I did not want it to end! Looking forward to the next book.

Diane Coto said...

Sounds like a great debut. Interesting characters are key for me. :)
@dino0726 from 
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