Thursday, January 05, 2017

Excellent Thriller Series from Stefanie Pintoff, CITY ON EDGE

One of the holiday gifts I received -- and immediately dove into -- is the second book in Stefanie Pintoff's Eve Rossi thriller series CITY ON EDGE. What a treat!

Pintoff may not yet be a familiar name for suspense readers, but she's earned her stripes, starting with the Edgar Award for Best First Novel for her debut, In the Shadow of Gotham. That began a series featuring New York Police Detective Simon Ziele, set in 1904.

Pintoff's move from this "historical mystery" series into pure suspense set in today's Big Apple began with last year's Hostage Taker. Eve Rossi charged into crime-solving with a quirky and dangerous team of her own: the Vidocq Team, made up of convicted yet brilliant criminals whose methods of gaining information are unorthodox but rapid and effective.

As an FBI Special Agent with major psych skills of her own, Eve Rossi's first challenge in CITY ON EDGE is to persuade the key Vidocq members to commit to action on behalf of a kidnapped child. Shouldn't be hard,, right? Except it's the little daughter of the city's own police commissioner, and Rossi's team has plenty of reason to dislike and mistrust this leader of a very different kind of force.

The cunning and exhilarating setting for the power plays of both the commissioner and the kidnapper -- and Rossi -- is the annual Thanksgiving parade in the city. Yes, the one known to oldtimers as the Macy's parade, with the ginormous balloons of kids'-world characters and the floats where Christmas characters like Santa interact with a crowd of millions.

The pressures on Rossi are intense and escalating, and in her new field of thriller writing, Pintoff pushes the "ticking clock" with skill. Most compelling is Eve Rossi herself. Suddenly wealthy through the death of a family member (a death she hasn't yet been able to resolve), Rossi has the kind of independence of Carol O'Connell's Mallory, although she's far more able to interact with people (including criminals). And like Jeffrey Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme, she's turned her newly acquired mansion into an advanced crime-solving lab and headquarters. The quirk of her team composition means if one of them gets on the wrong side of the city police, a long rap sheet works against the situation. How she manages her FBI creds in all this -- that's what Pintoff sets into action, and the book is a true page-turner.

Tightly plotted, loaded with explosive surprises, CITY ON EDGE is a classic and classy thriller well worth reading. And although Pintoff doesn't yet bind us to Rossi personally as intensely as she might, I'm more than willing to ride with the series, expecting it to deepen and become one of the powerful and memorable ones as Pintoff continues to push Rossi into the treacherous waters of her career.

NEXT review: What Jon Land's been up to with Heather Graham. Seriously.

PS:  Looking for more mystery reviews, from cozy to very dark? Browse the Kingdom Books mysteries review blog here.

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