Books by k.j.a. Wishnia

BLOOD LAKE by k.j.a. Wishnia
Released: Dec. 16, 2002

"When Filomena crosses the equator, Wishnia crosses the line from mystery to thriller, stuffing his latest way too full of incident and backstory. Readers have no more hope of unraveling the puzzle than Ecuadorians have of buying today's rice at yesterday's prices."
God knows why New York private eye Filomena Buscarsela (Red House, 2001, etc.) thinks it's a good idea to take her prepubescent daughter Antonia to visit her family in Ecuador. Last time she was in her homeland, Filomena was known as Juanita Calle, a revolutionary lucky to escape after one shootout too many. And sure enough, after a week in Guayaquil, watching her aunt Yolita and uncle Lucho try to run a grocery store in the face of a weekly inflation rate approaching 100 percent, Filomena faces violence again—a shootout during her bus ride to visit her childhood priest, Padre Samuel Campos, in his church in La Chala. When Padre Samuel is slashed to death, Filomena wants to know if his murder was in retaliation for co-authoring a report condemning the government's collaboration with paramilitary death squads. To solve the crime, she travels to La Trampa with two soldiers, Sergeant Musgoso and Corporal Pollilo, then joins forces with two reporters, Argentine Ruben Zimmerman and American Peter Connery. When Zimmerman is murdered, the police suspect Filomena, who flees into the Andes, where she confronts freezing temperatures, altitude sickness, political unrest, and pursuit by the police—as well as by the ghosts of her past. Read full book review >
RED HOUSE by k.j.a. Wishnia
Released: Nov. 12, 2001

"A good, though not a great, read. Still, anyone who's lived in non-rent-controlled apartment will doubtless respond to Fil's search for truth, justice, and affordable housing."
Filomena Buscarsela (The Glass Factory, 2000, etc.) is one busy muchacha these days. To make a better living (and maybe move herself and her 12-year-old daughter Antonia out of their single room and into a real apartment), she's decided to earn her p.i. license, so she hires herself out to Davis and Brown, a detective agency in the heart of ethnic Queens. Her fluent Spanish puts her first on call for the most thankless cases, like the disappearance of Pablo Muñoz, who left his mother for migrant farm work in Suffolk County and never came back, and the search for Fred Lopez, the fire equipment inspector who certified the equipment at P.S. 112 safe two weeks before it blew up. Fil's natural curiosity gets her into other cases, like the that of Sonny Tesoro, one of the squatters living in a self-renovated factory who one day, for no apparent reason, brandished a loaded gun at six of NYPD's finest and got himself thrown into the slammer, leaving his wife and baby alone and penniless. And she even draws an occasional non-Hispanic mystery like the theft of videotapes from the Dvrushnik factory. But the case that really hooks her is the beating death of housing activist Manny Morales: a fatality the mayor's office is ready to write off as just another random street crime unless Fil can prove otherwise. Read full book review >
SOFT MONEY by k.j.a. Wishnia
Released: May 24, 1999

From her precarious perch near Manhattan's seedy north pole, Ecuadorean ex-cop Filomena Buscarsela describes herself as "raised on angry prophets," and, brother, does it show. When her corner shopkeeper L†zaro PÇrez is robbed and shot dead by a pair of street punks and his pregnant sister asks Filomena to investigate, it might look like real sob-story stuff, but not for Filomena, who shoulders her toddler daughter Tonia, pairs up with Officer Janette Ivins, a rookie cop who's looking for guidance, and makes things happen. Since nobody's talking about the two punks, Filomena figures there's a mob connection somewhere along the line. But little does she know that her new employers at the Environmental Action Fund, where she presumably expects to meet a better class of people than she did as an NYPD detective, are up to their lungs in the case via mobbed-up super-polluter Samuel Morse, who sits on the EAF board in order to oversee his money-laundering activities more efficiently. Even though everybody Filomena works with, from Officer Ivins to EPA Superfund investigator Gina Lucchese, sells her out sooner or later, Filomena's scorched-earth tactics, which mainly involve getting enough on bad guys to squeeze them for information about other bad guys, are as effective as her wisecracks. And what wisecracks! As his blistering hardcover debut shows so well, Wishnia, whose self-published paperback 23 Shades of Black (1998) was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony awards, is the first American writer to propel both his dialogue and his story by harnessing the recent British hard-boiled school's tidal wave of class rage. Read full book review >