Oct 28 2013 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler

Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler, a New York mystery featuring Laurel Imperiole and Helen McCorkendaleKeeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler is the second novel in the Laurel and Helen New York Mystery series, in which the reporter and private eye team up to help a young women in fear of her life (available November 1, 2013).

Laurel Imperiole is an investigative journalist working for Women Now magazine, headquartered in New York City. When she receives a disturbing e-mail from a reader, Anne Ellsworth, she feels duty bound to help. Anne is a lonely young woman who suspects that her fiance, David Adams, isn’t all that he seems to be. Laurel senses the opportunity to write an article on how women in relationships can tread the fine line of respecting their partners’ privacy while still protecting themselves in an age of rampant identity theft, contrasting Anne’s situation with her own.

Laurel herself has rebounded hard into a six-month relationship with the very private Matt Kuhn, whom she thinks she’s falling in love with. She believes he’ll serve as a good complement to Anne’s duplicitous fiance. With this in mind, she gives Anne solid advice on how to dissociate herself from David, but finds Matt oddly hostile to her story idea. And when Laurel later sees Matt in the city, despite his claim of being in Italy, she turns to the only person she thinks will understand her fears and, better still, know what to do about them.

This person is the redoubtable private investigator Helen McCorkendale, an older woman who happens to be dating Laurel’s father, Mike. She welcomes Laurel’s concerns as a refreshing break from the insurance investigation her old friend and ex-lover, Joe Santangelo, has asked her to help his company with. The case has led Helen unsettlingly close to the Mafia, so a simple background check seems like something quick and easy to close while she distances herself from the insurance case.

But then Anne disappears, leaving a letter in her abandoned car for Laurel, and the police get involved. This wouldn’t be so bad if the guy in charge of the investigation wasn’t Aaron Gerrard, a cop with whom Laurel had a disastrous break-up immediately before meeting Matt.

Aaron is critical of Laurel's involvement with the case, but she defends herself when he accuses her of meddling:

“Anne’s request for help really got to me,“ Laurel said. “I’ve been thinking about how easily people can be fooled, how simple it is for them to change or hide their identities. People lie every day—on job applications, to their spouses, about where they went to school. The list is endless.” The thought Aaron would include her on that list of liars flew across her mind. She shrugged it away. “I decided to do a story about it while helping her at the same time. I probably should have cleared it with [my editor] first. It will benefit our readers. I really believe that.”

Laurel is warm-hearted and impulsive, often acting without thinking things through, but always because she thinks she’s doing what’s right. Fortunately for her, Helen is more level-headed, if just as adventurous. Helen might be older and more sensible, but she’s also endearingly vain, taking umbrage at a cabbie’s polite use of the word “ma’am” in reference to her. Later, when Helen finds herself surprised in a spot of breaking and entering, she escapes first to the rooftop, then:

Helen kept low and slid on her stomach, covering her black sweater and pants with dirt. She quietly crossed the low parapet separating the two loft buildings and wiggled over to the ladder leading to its fire escape a few feet away. She sat up and slid her legs over the building’s edge, easing her way down. When she reached the fire escape, she descended slowly, taking care to avoid the building’s windows. At the second story, she reached across from her perch to a chain link fence that enclosed the building’s yard from the open space next to it. She climbed over the fence, shimmied down a few more feet, then jumped to the earth below.

She landed on the solid ground of a weed-filled vacant lot. Moving toward a corner of the fence separated from its retaining post, Helen separated it farther and eased her way through. Once she was out on Lafayette Street, she brushed herself off, straightened her clothes, and walked toward the corner. Breathing a sigh of relief, she thought, Let’s see if any old ma’am can do that.

It’s great to read a contemporary mystery with two strong female leads who are friends without being sidekicks to one another. Cathi Stoler writes about the problems faced by modern women sympathetically, but in a way that also reminds us that certain dilemmas are timeless. The burgeoning love triangle between Laurel, Matt and Aaron, for example, is echoed in Helen’s navigation of her own tricky relationships with Mike and Joe. The romances are just as colorful as the mysteries unraveled here, and just as satisfyingly resolved.

See more new releases at our Fresh Meat feature page.


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This Sweepstakes has ended.

Nick of Time by Cathi StolerTo enter for a chance to win a copy of  Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler and the novella Nick of Time, an international gambler's tale of intrigue, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Keeping Secrets Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry  at beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 28, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 9:29 a.m. ET November 4, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Shannon Baas
Look interesting.
3. tony parsons
luv 2 win/read this book
6. ronframpton
like stories with tough females
9. smitten
Sounds intriquing!
10. truckerofbc
Sounds like a great book to read! Count me in!
patricia lambert
12. motelboss
sounds great thanks for the chance to win
Jeanne Agee
13. jta
These books look great and are one of my favorite genre. Would love to win. Thanks for the chance.
15. Nancy Foote
Would LOVE to win a copy.
19. lindawwww
Another book by Cathi Stoler - I can't wait to read it!
Judy Robinson
22. jkr42273
I'm new to this series, haven't yet read the first book, but I'll bet I will have finished it by the time the sweepstakes is over....sure hope I win! Thanks for the opportunity.
Phyllis Sinclair
23. psinclair
I enjoy female detective stories. Hope I win.
Marlyn Beebe
24. Marlyn
Sounds intriguing...I'd love to read it!
lynette thompson
does this look like the perfect read! Or what....Love it. Great book I'm sure
Janice Santillo
28. themommazie
Sounds like a really good book. I'd love to win.
Rosemary Krejsa
31. grandpa5
I would love to read Keeping Secrets. The plot sounds great. Thanks for the chance to win.
Patricia Nicklas
33. pmernick
Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the giveaway
Pam Howell
36. phowell13
Sounds great. Looking forward to reading this.
susan beamon
37. susanbeamon
This sounds like an interesting series. Sure would like to win the book.
Angela Dyrcz
38. angeladyrcz
This looks like a good one! I'd enjoy reading.
Kimbrell Scheunert
42. kscheunert
This book sounds great! I would love a chance to win.
Irene Menge
44. Goldenmane
Interesting heroines with convoluted relationships. How could I not want to win?
Anna Mills
45. Anna Mills
Her fiance isn't all he is supposed to be. Haven't we all been there? Need to read this!
Rylene Wauda
Young love, older love, and a mafia connection; it sounds good to me. I want to win.
Judy Woodruff
47. sweetjudyblue
Intriguing, sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance
Jacki Robertson
49. jcr650
A new author for me. Would love a chance to try her book.
Clydia DeFreese
51. clydia
I don't know this author. I look forward to reading this...and the one before it.
Laurence Coven
52. Holmes
I'll have to check up on the first one in the series.
Donna Bruno
56. dlbawiles
I've not read the first book, but I look forward to burrowing into another reporter/detective series!
Sheila Korman
57. skkorman
Thanks for the review—this sounds like a good read!
Anita Yancey
58. rosewood780
Sounds like an amazing book. I would love to read it. Thanks for this chance to win it.
I would like to read this book.
Bruce Hamilton
63. deerwalker
The first book was good would love to win the second one
Kelley Tackett
64. tackettfamilyky
This looks like a great read. Thank you for all the good picks.
Allison Moyer
66. The Loopy Librarian
Mystery, romance, strong female leads...what's not to like!
Suzanne Gonneville
67. Thumbs
". . . taking umbrage at a cabbie’s polite use of the word “ma’am” in reference to her."
I love Helen already! I have always taken umbrage when I hear some young (and sometimes older) twit call me "ma'am." But would I climb down a building to show how "un-ma'am-ish" I am?? NOT!
Vernon Luckert
68. vl4095
Looks like a good read - would love to win this!
Joyce Mitchell
69. JoyceLm
Sounds interesting - thanks for the chance to win.
Marilyn Russell
70. Meelen
A lot of balls are in the air in this mix of relationships and criminal activity. Sounds like a fun read.
Cairine Stade
71. FaerySong
Now that it is getting colder and we are inside more it's time to read a good mystery! This one sounds interesting!
Nancy Pate
72. patebooks
I like that Helen is older and adventurous--being a reader of a certain age!
Sally Winkleblech
73. sallyw
I think I admire Helen already! The idea of two women teaming up sounds good to me, hope I win a copy. Will also look for Cathi Stoler's first book.
Brooke Bumgardner
74. brookeblogs
Sounds like a fun & interesting read! I love novellas, too.
Kimberly Mayberry
75. MysticHuntress
This book sounds fantastic! I would love to win it!
Susan Mahaffey
77. Smbirds
This looks great! I would like to read this novel. It is usually a male reporter and a male cop or p.i. I would like to see the "female" view and discover a new author I want to read.
Brenda Tucker
78. rango3
Helen sounds so cool - I want to win, thanks.
79. maryc
Going to check out book 1 - thanks for the chance to win book 2!
Cindi Hoppes
81. CindiHoppes
This author is new to me and the summation of the plot and charactersintrigue me very much...
Many thanks, Cindi
Tiffany Duncan
82. Zoeypeacock
This sounds good but the cover is kind of awful.
Melissa Keith
88. melly801
Ssshhhh....I won't tell if I win this book because I can keep a secret. Harmf! I get a lot of disturbing e-mails. This book sounds groovy. I wanna read it. Ssshhhhh.........
89. klrocks
90. PL
Great! Another Cathi Stoler mystery! I hope I win. (If not, I'll buy. I'm very interested in the story and would like to have a good read like this on hand!!!)
Pat Murphy
91. murphyp2011
Sounds like something I would like to read. The journalist sounds a lot like the woman asking for help. Want to find out close I am.
Julie Link
95. euchre35
Would love to win this and read it - thank you for the opportunity.
Heather Martin
99. CrystalMirror
This is a book almost any woman can relate to. Defiantly was just put on the must read list.
Florry M. D.
102. florryalyna
I love mystery books! Would like to win & read this one!
Linda Peters
106. linnett
another great read for the winter months, thanks
108. Cathy s.
How super interesting and page turning this book sounds!
Dorothy Hayes
109. DorothyHayes
The plot is intriguing. I'd love to read this!
Marisa Young
111. Risa
Sounds interesting - would like to read.
115. Felicia
This book really sounds like an awesome read, thank you for the giveaway
allan fredericks
119. allanf573
The book sounds extremely interesting and should be an excellent read
125. JoAnn White
Want to read this! Sounds good.
kathy pease
126. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Wayne Lecoy
129. hotrodguy
I am entering your giveaway.
It would be great to win a copy of
Keeping Secrets by Cathi Stoler.
Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!
130. Gianna
Thanks for the giveaway!
Heather Cowley
137. choochoo
Scary, scary! Are people really who they say they are? Yikes.
Phoenix Vie
138. Phoenix
I like to read books that focus on women's friendships.
barbara stenby
139. wikichoco
I love mysteries like ols Sam Spade novels & such this looks like it could be up there in the future classics.
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