Books by Marissa Piesman

Released: Feb. 1, 1997

Nina Fischman's back from her abortive trek to L.A. with Jonathan Harris, sans man, sans job, sans pride (she has to move in with her mother, for crying out loud). But when her mild brother-in-law, Ken Rubin, is implicated in the poisoning of his real-estate partner, Andy Campbell, Nina (Alternate Sides, 1995, etc.) has herself another crime-solving gig, this time under cover of helping her successful ``friend'' Ellen Simon research a story for the New Yorker. Though there's nothing very mysterious about the case—Roz Brillstein, Andy's flashy widow, blames the animal-rights activists of SPASM (the Society for the Protection of All Small Mammals) who were protesting Andy's experiments with lab rats, though Andy's former partner, who became former after bedding down with Roz, looks equally suspicious—it does bring Nina together with dishy SPASM executive director Peter Slater (``even this guy's knuckles looked good''), give her a chance for a showdown with the killer and her no-nonsense mom, and leave her with her hair dyed and an unexpected new job. As usual, the lame mystery is an excuse for some laugh-out- loud chatter and Piesman's uniquely astringent insights into family relations (``In Jewish families, people generally avoided saying anything nice to each other. It was some sort of incest taboo''). Read full book review >
ALTERNATE SIDES by Marissa Piesman
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

Such a problem: Should Legal Service lawyer Nina Fischman keep her place in the West 70s or move in with ad exec Jonathan Harris all the way over in the East 80s? And what about the M word, or the chance of moving to California with Jonathan, or those thunder thighs? I'll tell you, there's hardly even time for a mystery, and hardly any mystery either. All right, Jonathan's doorman, Ray Mendez, gets himself shot while he's moving Jonathan's car to the alternate side of the street, and Nina (``yenta extraordinaire'') gets to trace his unsavory connections to a prostitution ring and the city's bland public advocate, but why bother with mystery at allPiesman (Close Quarters, 1994, etc.) must figurewhen you can kiss off Nina's first meeting with an actual hooker with the priceless line, ``Even the worst skanks at Bronx Science went to graduate school''? Yuppies at play, in what feels like a weeklong lunch at a kosher deli. Read full book review >
CLOSE QUARTERS by Marissa Piesman
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

The good news is: Piesman (Heading Uptown, 1993, etc.) still has a great narrative voice for Nina Fischman's antics. The bad news is: She still has trouble finding something for her wisecracking, Jewish, Bronx-born lawyer to do. Here Fischman agrees to take over a share in a summer house on Fire Island when a co- worker's roommate drops out. As usual, Fischman has the appeal of a smart, chatty friend. Piesman, through third-person narration rooted in Fischman's perspective, digresses on everything from art appreciation (``Scarsdale girls...had the easiest time oohing and aahing. The Bronx girls often found it hard not to snicker'') to Tina Brown's New Yorker. The mystery here is almost negligible. The male schoolteacher organizing the summer share—who has slept with every woman in the house except for Fischman—is found dead in his bed. The culprit is so obvious that readers will expect a surprise twist at the end—but there is none. Fortunately, Fischman's blossoming romance provides better fodder for Piesman's asides. Solid writing from an author who ought to forget the mystery angle and just use her ironic gifts to go to town Ö la Nora Ephron. (Mystery Guild alternate selection) Read full book review >
HEADING UPTOWN by Marissa Piesman
Released: Feb. 1, 1993

Forget Roger Simon. Forget Faye Kellerman. The ultimate Jewish mystery has to be this funny, smart-mouthed, hardcover introduction to Nina Fischman, a New York City lawyer who, here, has been named executor of the estate of one of her mother's friends. The late Helen's daughter-in-law Beverly wants just a few dishes, but Beverly's daughter—the sassy, wise-beyond-her-years Lisa—asks Nina to discover what happened to her dad, Mark, who skipped town a few months ago, then turned up a drunk-driving fatality in Lake Placid. But how could that be when Mark was a diabetic and never drank? Did Beverly want him dead so that she could marry Stuart, one of Mark's clients? Did one of Mark's partners kill him to exercise a death clause that would get them out of their office lease (the business, a mortgage-lending enterprise, was going bankrupt). Assisted by an old boyfriend, Nina scrutinizes the accident/autopsy reports, then returns to canvass N.Y.C. and environs for suspects and motives. A too-glib confession follows- -which subtracts from the exuberance and originality of the rest of the story but still doesn't manage to sink it. It's hard to resist an author who has an opinion on everything, with each one funnier than the last. Now, if only Piesman would tighten up her endings.... Read full book review >