Excerpt from Invisible City by Julia Dahl, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Invisible City

A Rebekah Roberts Novel

by Julia Dahl

Invisible City by Julia Dahl X
Invisible City by Julia Dahl
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2014, 304 pages

    Mar 2015, 304 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

“You don’t have a press card.”

He’s talking about the official credentials that the NYPD gives to reporters. If you want the press card, you have to submit six articles with your byline on them that prove you cover “spot news” in the city and routinely need to get past police lines. The card doesn’t actually get you past police lines, but it gives you a small measure of legitimacy in the eyes of whichever DCPI you’re dealing with. I applied for the card right before Thanksgiving, but I haven’t heard anything. I called after the New Year and the officer who answered the phone at the public information office told me to wait.

“I applied in November,” I tell DCPI. “I’m still waiting to hear.”

He nods.

“Is she still … in there?” I ask.

“You’ll get information when I get information,” he says, sounding bored.

I turn away. Police tape stretches across the wide gravel entrance to the scrap yard, fastened to a tall iron fence on one end and the bow of a long canal boat on the other. There is a trailer that seems to serve as the site’s office. Officers stand at ease, protecting the perimeter. Men in hard hats, whom I take to be employees of the yard, stand pointing for men in suits, whom I take to be detectives. The workers seem to be motioning between the grapple cage above their heads and the mountain of scrap rising fifty feet beside them. I follow to where their fingers are pointing, and see a leg.

I call in to the city desk and ask for Mike. I give him the information DCPI gave me.

“She’s still up there,” I tell him. “You can see her leg.”

“Her leg?” I can hear him typing. “What else? Hold on … Bruce!” He’s shouting to the photo editor. “Bruce, who’s out there for you? Rebekah … who’s there for photo?”

“I haven’t seen anybody.”

“Hold on.” He clicks off. I try to communicate with Mike in these conversations. Every shift it’s the same: he tells me where to go and why; I tell him what I find. I’ve seen him in person twice in six months. He’s fifty pounds overweight, like most of the men in the newsroom, but unlike most of them he is polite and soft-spoken. When I walked into the office after three weeks of speaking several times a day, he said hello and avoided eye contact, then turned back to his computer.

I rock back and forth in my boots. I’m standing in the sun, and I’ve got fleece inserts over socks over tights, but I still can’t feel my toes. Mike comes back on the phone.

“Johnny’s coming.”

“Johnny from Staten Island?”

“Yeah. Larry is working sources at 1PP.” Larry Dunn is the Trib’s longtime police bureau chief. “Talk to somebody from the scrap yard. We’re hearing a worker called it in. Is Calloway there?”


“Don’t lose sight of him.”

“Got it.”

“I’m going to the meeting with a woman in a scrap heap. We need an ID.”

“I’m on it,” I say.

The rest of the TV newspeople start rolling up in their vans. The on-air reporters always ride shotgun, camera techs squat with the equipment in the back. Gretchen Fiorello from the local Fox station steps out carrying her battery-powered microphone. She’s in full makeup, eyes lined and shadowed, lipstick just applied, and her strawberry blond hair is coiffed so that it lifts as one entity against the wind. She’s wearing panty hose and slip-on heels and a matching scarf and mittens set.

DCPI has nothing new, and the men at the scrap heap are still staring up at the steel fist with the body in it, so I push into the gas station convenience store to warm up. Working stakeouts or active scenes in the cold requires a tedious amount of energy. Hot coffee or tea warms you best from the inside out, but if you’ve got your hands wrapped around a cup, you can’t take notes. Plus, the more you drink, the more likely it is you have to find a bathroom—which usually isn’t easy. I shake powdered creamer into a white cardboard cup and pour myself some coffee from a mostly empty pot sitting on a warmer. I pay, then stand beside the front window and sip. From where I’m standing I can see most of the scrap yard.

Excerpted from Invisible City by Julia Dahl. Copyright © 2014 by Julia Dahl. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Carolina Moonset
by Matt Goldman
An engrossing novel about family, memories and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Good Husbands
    by Cate Ray

    Three wives, one letter, and an explosive secret that will change everything.
    He said, she said. Who do you believe?

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden
    by Zhuqing Li

    A beautifully woven family memoir that coalesces into a vivid history of two very different Chinas.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.



Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.