This book is a mystery reader favorite—a puzzle. There's a murder, a murder list and, eventually, numerous suspects.
The protagonist is a mystery reader favorite, too. A mature, savvy single woman with a professional career, thrice married, so she's been around; damaged from the past but hopeful about the future; born without a filter on her mouth, but has a seriously flawed screening process when it comes to the men she has relationships with.
Meet Clare Carlson, former newspaper reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, now news director at Channel 10 in NYC. She makes a point of saying she's not an on-air TV reporter, but a real journalist who came up through a now-defunct print newspaper.
She's also innately decent, which is why when a homeless woman named Dora Gayle is found murdered on the street, she sees it as news unlike others around her who would rather ignore it, favoring instead stories about beautiful, wealthy, high profile murder victims. Or as it was known in the Channel 10 wheelhouse, the Blonde White Female Syndrome story.
So when Dora's body is discovered, the news team feels it's not important enough for the evening news.
". . . They have no idea who killed her or why, and they probably never will. She's just another forgotten homeless person dead on the streets. . . ."
But Clare takes a stand. She wants to know who Dora Gayle was, and why she called herself Cinderella. Where was she and what was she doing before she started living on the street?
". . . The real story I still wanted to tell was how she went from the young girl who liked to read poetry and write love sonnets to become the homeless woman who died alone in that bank vestibule."
Then the news team gets the kind of story they prefer—a beautiful, high profile murder victim with a history of numerous boyfriends, ex-lovers, and scandal. A Wall Street hotshot named Grace Mancuso:
"A woman stockbroker . . . found beaten to death in her Upper East Side apartment . . . very pretty, very successful. The crime scene was really bad. There was blood everywhere in the apartment—bedroom, living room and kitchen. The Medical Examiner's office says the killer kept beating her even after she must have been long dead . . ."
But that's not all.
Police find a note at the crime scene containing a surprising list of names. Homeless murder victim Dora Gayle's name is on the list, along with:
Brendan Kaiser—media mogul who also owns Channel 10 where Clare works. As a young man he was a screw up. Picked up for drinking and smoking pot, expelled from schools, a drifter until his father died and he inherited the family business empire.
Bill Atwood—former U.S. Congressman and current college president, golden boy of American politics, Rhodes scholar, successful businessman. Then it all fell apart when an intern in his Congressional office filed a sexual harassment complaint.
Emily Lehrman—high-profile defense attorney, the kind who gives lawyers a bad name: "I don't care whether my client is guilty, innocent or somewhere in between. I represent anyone that wants to pay me . . ."
Scott Manning—NYPD homicide detective, graduated top of his class in the academy later earned commendations while on duty, steadfast homelife with wife and kids, volunteer fireman, Little League coach. An all-around good guy. Or was he?
Could there be a more disparate group of people? It's doubtful they ran in the same circles or even knew each other by name or face. How could their lives be intertwined?
Clare is assigned to find the connection between those names and their connection to the murder victim. She bushwhacks through a tangle of embezzlement, blackmail, promiscuity, love affairs, adultery, secret daughters, and youthful indiscretions to finally find the truth.
Author Belsky brings years of experience in the print, digital, and TV news business to his books, giving readers a realistic view of life behind the printing presses and the TV screens.
The result is an engrossing, mind boggling mystery.