You can tell from the exciting first chapters of Baby Girl Doe that Lawrence Kelter knows how to craft a murder mystery, and give it twists and turns and funny dialogue, some of which the main character has with herself. What you can’t tell though until more than halfway through, is how adroit the author is in bringing together radically different characters and diverse subject matter, some of it technical, in a narrative that spans twenty-five years. “Women protagonists are cooler than men,” Kelter said, and his heroine Stephanie Chalice an NYPD homicide detective from Manhattan North does stand out in a genre where smart, often potty-mouthed female protagonists tend to be loners or ice maidens. Stephanie, though, has a policeman husband whom she’s wild about, an adorable pre-toddler, and a loving Italian mother who’s kind of a hip nudge. They’re all holdovers from four previous Stephanie Chalice books but you don’t need to have read them in order to enjoy this one. In one of those Q&As authors often compose for PR, Kelter says he never intended to be a writer. As a matter of fact, and he insists we can check his high school yearbook if we want, he was voted the individual least likely to visit a library. Well times change. Baby Girl Doe will especially interest readers who know Montauk on Long Island, and in case you didn’t know, Montauk’s in, the hotspot for vacations these days. Not that Stephanie would’ve spent time on the beach. Still, it’s not her fault that she rented a cottage for her family that just burned down, and that when at the new place she finds, she learns of a girl’s death on the Long Island railroad tracks and about another girl who’s gone missing. As the Suffolk County police chief tells her, “People think it’s safe out here in suburbia but let me tell you it’s not. Indeed it’s not as the ensuing violence of the plot makes clear. Of course the police have made no progress on the cases of the missing girls, which have now grown cold. Enter our lady. Stephanie can’t help herself. As she says, she’s hopelessly intrigued by murder investigations and good at solving them, though the reader won’t easily guess where her skills and instincts lead her this time until close to the end. So, expect the unexpected from this wide-ranging thriller, including stolen identities, kinky sex, and justifiable anger at foster home horrors, and a top secret Air Force research program that experiments on children. Go Stephanie!”
I’m Joan Baum.
Everyone deserves a well-earned vacation, don’t they? Guess again!
Plans have been made and the bags are packed but Detective Stephanie Chalice is having about as much fun as Michael Vick at an ASPCA fundraiser.
The new story finds Chalice and Lido on the East End of Long Island, vacationing with Max, their new arrival. Things go wrong from the very start. Their vacation rental burns to the ground, bodies pile up, and just to make things interesting, Lido . . . All I’ll say is that you’ll never believe it.
Chalice may be out of her jurisdiction but she’s never out of questions or determination and soon connects two unsolved homicides. As always, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and her initial findings plunge her deeper and deeper into the most extraordinary investigation of her career.