An amateur sleuth discovers a body in her husband’s cabinetry workshop.
Anita Servi, whiling away the hours since she gave up social work (Consider the Alternative, 2002, etc.) by helping her craftsman husband Benno sand and stain projects, finally notices a peculiar smell and splotches emanating from a vacuum press. By a series of coincidences, Anita learns that their origin is the gruesomely dead grandson of aging artist Helen Baum, whose family tree included a diamond smuggler and a daughter now married to a Jewish martinet, neither of whom spoke to Helen. More coincidences land Anita in the midst of a crystal-meth processing plant right next door to Benno’s factory space, until the rashly inquisitive heroine is unknowingly flirting with drug dealers and buyers and unwittingly putting poor Helen smack in their sights. Since several friends of Anita’s are cops, it would be sensible for her to confide in them, but first that rash streak leads to her getting trussed up in masking tape, and it’s only by yet another coincidence that she is saved, murders are solved, and she can happily collapse in Benno’s protective arms.
Marcuse differentiates crisply between Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section and even shows how to use tefillin (Jewish prayer boxes) to hide E (Ecstasy). But she has yet to create a plot as engaging as her heroine.