Feb 26 2015 3:00pm

Fresh Meat: Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes

Broken Window by Dorothy H. Hayes is set in NYC in the summer of 1984 — a time when the subway was not a safe place for travel, as evidenced by a missing NYU student (available March 3, 2015).

Comment below for a chance to win a copy!

It's the summer of 1984, and New York City is steaming in more ways than one. Local politicians are spending lots of time arguing in the media but doing relatively little to relieve the stress of mass-transit problems. New York needs its subways and busses to keep the city going, but they were like a tea kettle set to boil.

The subway was dangerous.
But the three girls wouldn’t take no for an answer. Kelly Singleton was moving from her Connecticut home into her NYU dorm, and the subway was part of her new life, she told her concerned parents.

Jamie Ryan and Christina Moore were her two best friends and would be visiting Kelly whenever they could. They insisted that they needed to learn how to navigate mass transportation.

For all three of them, riding the subway was a rite of passage. That was their final plea.

The old, rusted trains they were so anxious to ride broke down regularly, leaving passengers to wait, sometimes forty minutes and longer, in dangerous circumstances, their parents argued. The Daily News and The New York Times frequently reported gang violence on the trains, which in the last ten years had become the symbol of the city’s rising crime rate.

If you have or have ever raised teenagers, you’ll recognize these girls immediately. They’re so sure they can master the world, they pay no attention to lessons their parents are still trying to teach. However, we all know teens have to cross that threshold into independence or they can’t survive. That doesn’t make it any easier for parents to let go.

Dorothy H. Hayes does a good job of conveying the teenagers’ sense of adventure during the ride and the parents’ fear when the unthinkable happens. It was just a trip to the city. There were hundreds of people around. Somebody should have seen a beautiful young girl when she exited the subway.

Because she is the local investigative reporter, Carol Rossi has achieved some notoriety. Readers met her in Hayes' first novel, Murder at the P&Z, where Rossi used her analytical skills to look into local politics at the Planning & Zoning Commission. She's an interesting and innovative amateur detective who is uncompromisingly dogged in her inquiries.

Having worked for a small-town weekly paper myself, I found Hayes’s portrayal of the reporter spot on. When you’re a part of a small community but need to report objectively, you’re often reluctant to share what you’ve found. Everything you write ripples through the town like a pebble thrown in water.

Newly married to Detective Jerry Stevenson of the Wilton Police Department, Rossi sometimes finds herself at odds with her husband. While she’s out to get the whole story, Jerry is concerned that she may be inserting herself where she shouldn’t be. The two are also adjusting to living as a couple and maintaining busy schedules. Add to that they live on a working farm that also has livestock and a small pack of rescued animals.

At Peaceable Kingdom, we remain among the very few who cling to Wilton’s agrarian past. The farm and the animals would brace us as we worked on this case. The light changed and the traffic soon grew thicker as I crossed the boundary to Norwalk, Wilton’s colonial sister.

I yawned. Thanks to the farm, lately I know new levels of exhaustion. Monday, we harvested berries and carrots after doing a general cleanup during the weekend. Waiting in the wings were the cornfield and apple trees.

My ugly fingernails bore witness to the harvest, cracked, broken, and unpolished. I grabbed a nail file from the glove compartment to work on them at another traffic light. It took a couple of lights, but at least my nails were a unified mess by the time I reached the parking lot of the Norwalk Daily News.

Rossi is drawn into the missing-girl investigation by Kelly's parents, who want her help due to her notoriety from her last big story. Taking on the assignment puts her in a precarious position with her husband, but Rossi is compelled to do what she can. After all, there’s always the possibility that Kelly can be rescued. Jerry keeps reminding her of jurisdictional issues while Rossi sees everything in terms of the victim.

My own reporting was limited to feature stories. I knew right away I was not cut out for hard news. I think it became clear to me when my associate and I argued who would take pictures if the car wreck we were headed to had blood on scene. Knowing there could be sad outcome to a heavy news story kept me doing lifestyle pieces.

Rossi, on the other hand, is intent on preventing the unpleasant outcome. She’s taking daily trips to the city, digging into the details of recent murders, and going to talk to witnesses personally.

I enjoyed the way Hayes slowly built the tension, but kept the action moving in the story. At times, I found myself holding my breath for fear of what I would read next. A missing person story is always spine tingling because there are so many ways it could end.

Take a ride through the city that was New York more than twenty years ago. Feel the sticky heat of summer and the inescapable tension created by reading about someone who has no control over their own fate.

As bad as driving in New York City traffic is, this book could make you think twice about taking the subway.

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Broken Window 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 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) February 26, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 1:59 p.m. ET March 5, 2015. 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.

Leigh Neely is a former journalist and editor who now writes fiction and articles for regional magazines. She and her writing partner, Jan Powell, are the authors of Second Nature by Neely Powell, and the trilogy, “The Witches of New Mourne.” She also writes for the popular blog, Her short stories are in the anthologies, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Murder New York Style: Family Matters, put out by the New York/Tri-State Sisters in Crime.

Read all of Leigh Neely's posts for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Patrice Gottfried
1. pkg427
Read a few of her other books. Fantastic! Would love to read this one.
2. DebP
I haven't read any of her books, yet, but I'd like to.
3. maryc
Not sure the subway is safer today - people are so wrapped up with their electronic gadgets, they don't pay attention to what's going on around them.
Sally Schmidt
4. bigcootie
This sounds like an exciting read. I haven't read any of her other books but I need to check them out as well. Thanks for the giveaway.
Vanessa Galore
5. vanessagalore
I moved to NYC in 1984, and rode the subway a lot the first few years. It was the time of Bernard Goetz. There was a lot more danger everyday on the subway than there is now.
7. Dorothy H. Hayes
Leigh, thanks for a terrific review. You are too kind!
8. sha-li lee
I was working in New York City in 1984 but avoiding to take the subway as much as possible. Looking forward to reading the book.
9. Joy Gergle
Loved Murder at the P&Z! Excited to get my hands on Broken Window! For those of you who haven't read any of her previous books it's definitely a must!! You won't be disappointed!
Cindy Hipolito
10. mysuccess
Broken Window sounds like a fascinating read. This would be my first introduction to this author. Thanks for the giveaway.
11. Dorothy H. Hayes
Thanks, everyone, for your wonderful comments. Yes, the subway may always have its element of danger, but it was much worse in 1984 for the trains were old, and the lack of police presence.
L Peters
12. leepcat
Sounds like another winner. Thanks!
Janice Santillo
14. themommazie
Sounds like a very interesting read. Definitely want tol read this one.
15. Lisa L
Engaging characters, great read. Hayes did it again! Look forward to joining Rossi on her next big case.
16. Dorothy H. Hayes
Thanks, again, Everyone! I've grown to like Rossi and Jerry to the point that I had to write another book for them, and at the moment, I'm writing the third book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series.
Linda Knowles
17. strigoivii
As a mom to 2 teenage girls...I would love to read this
Irene Menge
19. Goldenmane
I don't live in New York, but when I've visited infrequently during the last 50 years, I've had to ride the subway on occasion. When I was a teenager, it was an adventure. Now I always try to remain aware of what is happening around me. I will say that I've never had any problems other than missing my stop a few times. But I do know that there can be danger there. I'm looking forward to reading this book.
21. officerripley
Hope I win; thanks for the chance!
Alexa Nernberg
23. alexanernberg
I haven't read anything by Dorothy Hayes before, but Broken Window sounds like an intriquing novel that I could get lost in. Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway and for the opportunity to participate.
24. Shannon Baas
I would like to read this.
Sandy Klocinski
25. attea2d
I haven't read any Dorothy Hayes but this sounds like something I might like. Thanks for the giveaway. I'm looking forward to reading this book
26. DebP
Yes, I'd like to read this book.
27. Dorothy H. Hayes
Launching Broken Window is an extroadinary event and reading the enthusiastic comments above adds to the moment. Thanks to all involved!
Sheron Yancey
28. sheronyancey
Broken Window looks like my kind of book. Looks interesting would love to win one!
Sharon Shumway
29. Shellen
Mystery and New York City ! Great combination for a good story.
Teresa Young
30. tmy56
Sounds like my friends & I taking the bus to the city when we were teens.
I'd like a chance o read this author who is new to me.
Marjorie Manharth
32. mmanharth
Looks very interesting. Would love to read it.
Andra Dalton
33. andra77
Very intriguing book, can't wait to read!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)
Wilifred Alire
34. walire
Thank you for introducing a new mystery author to me. Will also check out the other book, hopefully, my county library will have purchased the book.
Michael Carter
35. rubydog
Sounds interesting.
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
anne goodman
36. agoodman
Always love to find a great new book!
41. Dorothy H. Hayes
Again, thanks for all the enthusiasm for this new release! Enjoy the ride on the Number Six subway train, but be careful!
Michael Papagermanos
44. MPAndonee
I lived 1984 in New York City!

Let's see how good this book is in describing my experiences.
Lori Provenzano
46. Mountainesque
Appears that this book would be a real ride, and a journey worth taking!
Susan Mahaffey
48. Smbirds
Sounds good and perhaps scarey! I hope I win Broken Window!
keith james
49. kdj617
Thanks for introducing me to another new author.
I've never been to NYC but love reading about it.
Sally Winkleblech
54. sallyw
It's been many years since I've been to New York and ridden the subway, hope to go this spring and do that. But this book might change my mind about that ride. I look forward to reading this book.
Joyce Mitchell
55. JoyceLm
Sounds interesting - thanks for the chance to win.
Lori Rutherford
56. keirma
I rode the NYC subway for the first time last year. It was definately an experience. Would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance!
60. Amyc
I graduated in 1984 and ignored my parent's advice about driving in Chicago...didn't end up "in a ditch somewhere" on my way home (downstate on the Mississippi) like they thought I would, but was just boringly stuck in traffic for 10 hours while they assumed I was.
Amy Curtiss
61. Amy
I graduated in 1984 and ignored my parent's advice about driving in Chicago...didn't end up "in a ditch somewhere" on my way home (downstate on the Mississippi) like they thought I would, but was just boringly stuck in traffic for 10 hours while they assumed I was.
Carol Gowett
62. clynsg
Many years ago I took my first solo cross-country driving trip (right after seeing the movie Psycho yet!!) and got snow-bound in New York State. There were definitely some scary moments, both on the road and in the motel I ended up in for awhile!
63. dorothyHayes
Amy, and all other young people, commenting, Broken Window, I guess, for the young, is a cautionary tale. We all want to try our wings, when we're young. But caution, that's the key.

My young characters were cautious, just not cautious enough.
Deborah Wellenstein
67. dglitter
This looks like a great read-thanks for the opportunity!
68. mamaconnie
I have not read any books by this author but this one sounds particularly exciting and I'd like to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.
Barbara Taylor
74. btaylor08
A new author for me. I'd love to give this book a try.
75. Rhonda Forbes
Sounds like a wonderfuful book
76. nukstreasures
This is my kind of book. It sounds like one of those you can't put down
Donna Jacoby
77. Donna Jacoby
I'm always looking for the next book to read & this one sounds good. Thank you for the giveaway!
Betty Curran
79. willitara
I haven't read any of her books yet, but I'm definitely going to.
Heather Cowley
83. choochoo
Sounds pretty scary! I remember the news stories coming out of NYC back in those days. I visit often and still refuse to ride the subway! lol
Debra Kidle
86. lubelle
Would love to read this, sounds thrilling!
cindy boyd
Sounds good! I remember being young and feeling bullet proof!
88. MB Murray
I have not read this book but it looks interesting. The subways are very intriguing as you get to people watch, listen to your surroundings in a way like no other. When I went to John Jay in NYC ... I found I had the adrenaline to run just to catch it in time ... although it was dark in the surrounding. Now the lights are a lot brighter and its a lot cleaner.
I look forward to reading this book soon.
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