This book is the third in a continuing series of “socially conscious crime novels,” with the street-smart firebrand Latina leading lady, Filomena Buscarsela, as an ex-NYPD cop turned private investigator. Filomena has experienced poverty and injustice in her native Ecuador and expected her new home to be very different. Throughout this series, which began with 23 Shades of Black and continued with Soft Money, Filomena, a single mother, deals with gender and racial inequality as she tries to do her job effectively, hoping to rise up in the ranks. She attempts to solve a complicated case of corporate environmental crimes almost singlehandedly and gets herself into trouble by brazenly voicing exactly what’s on her mind and never taking no for an answer. In this story our heroine is facing cancer, a result of her unfortunate encounter with harsh chemicals in the first story of the series.
The novel is set partly in suburban Suffolk County, Long Island, where author Ken Wishnia resides. His insights and wisecracking about the local culture and geography through his protagonist are right on the mark for this Long Island reader. Wishnia knows plenty about Filomena’s South American background as well, since he is married to an Ecuadorian and has spent significant time there.
Wishnia is right on target with his character’s insistence on getting to the source of our polluted water. With toxic underground plumes and overburdened sewage systems along with a one- in-nine breast cancer rate headlining our local press, it’s reassuring that at least one fictional investigator is on the case. Wishnia’s book reminds us that getting corporations to look into their own carbon footprints is critical to the solution and to our survival.
Though she is ill, the irrepressible Filomena is determined to solve the case and get her revenge on the perps. She calls them murderers, those business tycoons whose employees are unknowingly at daily dire risk, some dying from their lethal work environment. While on the chase, she dates a couple of the male characters. One turns out to be a nice Jewish doctor. Unbelievably this turn of events isn’t too schmaltzy, since our girl Filomena is way too tough for that. I look forward to the next episode in this fast paced series which deals with heavy topics in a humorous way.