Summary and book reviews of A Well-Known Secret by Jim Fusilli

A Well-Known Secret

By Jim Fusilli

A Well-Known Secret
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2002,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2003,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

Hailed by both the Chicago Tribune and the Detroit Free Press as one of the best mysteries of 2001, Closing Time firmly established Jim Fusilli as a writer to watch and introduced readers to Terry Orr, his precocious daughter, Bella, and what The New York Times called "the vital citizens of Fusilli's gorgeous nightmare of a city." In A Well-Known Secret, Terry's life is turned upside down while the city around him reels.

Terry's latest case concerns Sonia Salgado, recently released after thirty years in prison for the robbery and murder of diamond dealer Asher Glatzer. When Terry discovers her battered body in an East Village halfway house, the ensuing investigation leads him back to the brutal city of the seventies, where seeds of corruption were first sown. Terry is soon at odds with an influential cop harboring family secrets; a smooth-talking Hispanic civic leader; and Julie Giada, the angel in the DA's office. At the same time, Terry tries to do right by daughter Bella while grappling with the memories of his lost wife and son and a forever-changed New York City.

Chapter 1

Her name was Dorotea Salgado. Our housekeeper called her a friend.

She was sitting in a two-seat booth with her long, crinkled hands folded on the tabletop, and as I approached her she looked blankly at me, then returned to staring into the distance, toward the dappled sunlight and budding trees in Union Square Park. Her hollow, angular face was scored with wrinkles and dark lines, and her skin sagged slightly from the jaw. She wore a modest dress, burgundy with a paisley print, over her thin frame. Strands of gray, standing in contrast to her black hair, rested above her ears. At her side near the window sat a square pocketbook that wasn't new. It matched her brown belt and sensible shoes.

The old, '40s-style clock above the entrance to the kitchen read Diamonds, but if that was the name of the place, no one used it: The red-neon sign out front said coffee shop and nothing more.

At 11 on a Monday morning, black stools waited for customers at the Formica ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Steeped in melancholic reverie and spot-on Manhattan detail, Terry's noir saga doesn't make it as mystery, but sparkles as a literary event.

Publishers Weekly

Fusilli's second Terry Orr thriller, set two years after his outstanding debut, Closing Time (2001), is even better-the writing more focused, the characters sharper, the plot less diffuse.

Booklist - Emily Melton

Starred Review. This superb follow-up to Fusilli's first Terry Orr novel--Closing Time--combines a brilliantly conceived plot, droll wit, often-outrageous characters, moody prose, and atmospheric descriptions of a gritty, post-September 11 New York. A winner on all fronts.

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