In the second book of Stein’s (Brooklyn Bones, 2013, etc.) Erica Donato Mysteries series, a grad student and mother wrestles with a puzzle related to her history work—only to find more questions that hit closer to home.
Between her responsibilities for her teenage daughter, Chris, and her work as a graduate student, youngish single mother Erica Donato has her hands full. When her research supervisor makes her an offer she can’t refuse—working as an assistant to snooty, pretentious Dr. Thomas Flint in his work on the history of the Tiffany studio—Erica is excited to learn something new but also dubious that the project will ever be credited to her. That turns out to be the least of her concerns. She and co-researcher Ryan, a youngster in the field, uncover what appears to be a chain of irregularities in the design and keeping of an older Tiffany window. While this mild drama is unfolding, Chris has some upsetting news of her own: Dima, the father of her childhood friend Alex, has been murdered, his body discovered outside his home. Erica, who is close to Dima’s wife, tries to guide grieving widow Natalya through police procedures as best she can, though she’s hampered by the fact that Natalya’s Russian background gives her a rather different idea of what the police are for. Suspecting that Dima’s shady brother might have had something to do with her husband’s death, Natalya urges Erica to investigate. After agreeing, Erica soon has her hands full with another investigation and another dead body. Savvy readers will see the connection between plots A and B from the start.
Offers promising developments for Erica and Chris, but readers will find little to work with.