Marcuse, a former New York City social worker, clones herself as her debut’s heroine Anita Servi, a New York City social worker to the elderly operating out of a tiny, grubby office at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Leaving for work with her foster-care daughter Clea scampering ahead, Anita discovers the dead body of the homeless woman that tenants of their building call Our Lady of the Landing because of her penchant for sleeping in their hallway. While the jaded cops opine that Our Lady fell, Anita wonders who took her purse. Visiting clinic clients at the Maramay, the dead Lillian's official residence, inquisitive Anita learns that Lillian was actually wealthy, that she grieved over a son who may have drowned at age five—just like the amiable child whose statue stands farther up the street—and that Regina Hilton, a door-to-door manicurist, regularly stole jewels and money from her housebound clientele. Another elderly woman dies, two elderly sisters are victims of a gas leak, and Anita keeps coming up with ties between her building and the Maramay that eventually cause her to burgle her neighbors, then land her in the Hudson and a hospital, before she succeeds in sorting through her neighbors’ alibis and lays Lillian's past to rest.
Earnest stuff, with genuine feeling for geriatric concerns, an insider's tour of Upper West Side landmarks, restaurants, and park paths, and a novice's preoccupation with wrapping things up.