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Shadows Still Remain: A Novel (Darlene O'Hara Series) Paperback – Large Print, April 21, 2009
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A Beautiful Woman, Missing
New York City, 2005. Thanksgiving weekend. A topless Kate Moss peers down from a billboard over rain-spattered Houston Street. Escaping a troubled past, Francesca Pena came to the city and reinvented herself. At New York University, her beauty and charisma are the envy of her privileged pals, yet none knows the real Francesca—who, after a night of drinking, is now missing.
A High-Stakes Gamble
Detective Darlene O'Hara of the Seventh Precinct and her partner, Serge "K." Krekorian, set out to find Pena. But when the case turns high-profile and Homicide is called in, O'Hara—who has an eighteen-year-old son she saddled with the name Axl Rose O'Hara, and whose binge drinking exacerbates the massive chip on her shoulder—refuses to let go. Risking both her and K.'s careers, she defies NYPD brass and Homicide legend Patrick Lowry to secretly pursue her own investigation.
A Desperate Chase—and a Chilling Twist
Following a deadly trail that leads from NYU's ivory towers to Brooklyn tattoo parlors, from a skanky strip club to a whitewashed boutique run by a Korean madam, O'Hara closes in on her prey. But she has to move fast, because Lowry and the NYPD are about to make a devastating mistake that will leave the real killer free.
The Story Behind Shadows Still Remain by Peter de Jonge
Before I conceived any aspect of Shadows Still Remain, I sat and rode around with NYPD detectives. Both the story and cast were shaped by the men and women, I was lucky enough to spend time with. This is also true of the setting. I recalled that a former colleague had married a cop who had worked out of the 7, the Lower East Side precinct just south of the East Village between Houston and Chinatown. One afternoon he brought me down to the station house at 19 ½ Pitt Street and escorted up the stairs to the second floor detective room, where Darlene O’Hara in the opening pages of Shadows Still Remain is enjoying a solitary Thanksgiving. When I arrived, the three man detective team was, like her, finishing their lunch at the filthy table at the back of the room. The retired cop explained what I had in mind, and to my surprise, no one objected.
For the next couple months, I often joined them on their shifts, passing myself off as the passive taciturn member of the team. When they went into the projects to talk to victims or witnesses or make an arrest, I stood beside, or better yet behind them, my only responsibility not to say or do anything that exposed me as an imposter and coward. On house calls, I pretended not to be scared. When we went to bars, I pretended I could drink.
Some of the book’s locations, like NYU’s Bobst Library, where O’Hara reads the victim’s transcripts and quickly comes to feel proprietary about the peace and quiet, were as new to me as O’Hara. Others were deeply personal. For example, 251 Fort Washington Avenue, at the top of Manhattan in Washington Heights, where Consuela Entonces lives with her daughters, is the building my father lived in as a teenager. Now it’s a Dominican neighborhood. Then it was filled with recently arrived German Jews like him. Location-wise, I only took a couple liberties. I invented a condo in progress on the west side of Rivington Park, called “Atelier," and a tiny boutique offering an absurdly minimal selection of merchandise called “eeL,” and as far as I know there is no Brooklyn tattoo parlor named “Bad Idea Tattoos.”
One reason I opened Shadows Still Remain at the end of 2005 rather than the fictional present, was to show the merciless dispatch with which New York’s Darwinian economy makes over the face of the city and at the same time try to protect the book from seeming obsolete before it got in your hands. On Thanksgiving Eve, 2005 when Francesca Pena climbs out of the subway onto Bleeker Street, Tower Records loomed over the neighborhood, running from Broadway to the far side of Lafayette. Now of course, along with many other retailers Pena passes that night, it’s long gone. Washington Square Park, whose grubbiness stood out in contrast to the affluence of the NYU campus that surrounds it is in the midst of a multi-million dollar makeover and the anomalous little Howard Johnson Express Inn where Darlene O’Hara spends a couple highly productive days and nights, has a new façade and name The Gem Hotel. The rooms haven’t changed however, and if you’re eager to spend a couple nights in the Lower East Side, you might want to consider it. I gave them a call and their prices are still the cheapest in the neighborhood.
Photographs from Shadows Still Remain (Click to Enlarge)
|Pitt Street, 7th Precinct:|
Detective Darlene O’Hara, the heroine of Shadows Still Remain is a 34-year-old detective who works out of the 7th Precinct. The station house, located in the shadow of the ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge, looks out the bleakest corridor of the Lower East Side and has the curiously exact address of 19 1/2 Pitt Street.
|Lower East Side Bar: |
In the course of verifying an alibi for a murder suspect, O’Hara discovers her new favorite dive bar in a basement off First Avenue and 5th Street. O’Hara instantly likes way the place looks, but mainly likes what she hears--Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Zeppelin--the shimmering metal of her misspent youth.
|Orchard Street: |
My wife took these pictures one afternoon this winter. This shot, looking north up Orchard, somehow captures the old ghosts of the Lower East Side. If it wasn’t for the sign for the ATM, you could be looking at a photo from the early 1900s.
|Rivington Street: |
This is the view from the second floor bar of the Rivington Hotel, where, in a critical juncture, O’Hara meets her partner Serge “K” Krekorian. K chooses the location because he’s quite sure no cops would ever set foot in such a trendy spot.
This is the window of a tattoo parlor on Stanton Street, just east of Essex. One night O’Hara discovers just how many tattoo parlors there are in lower Manhattan, and can’t believe there’s enough empty downtown skin left to go around.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
De Jonge, a James Patterson coauthor (Beach Road), delivers his first solo effort, a routine crime thriller set in New York City. NYPD Det. Darlene O'Hara, beautiful and thirty-four, with wavy red hair and the kind of freckles men try to lick off shoulders, is looking for missing NYU student Francesca Pena, a very pretty teenage girl with long jet-black hair and bottomless brown eyes, when she learns that Pena's brutally beaten body has been found in East River Park. While her professional colleagues soon focus on David McLain, Pena's hometown friend who initially reported her missing, O'Hara doubts McLain is guilty. As the evidence against McLain mounts, she persists in her search for the real killer, a quest that leads her to cross lines, risk her job and become a wanted person herself. Predictably, O'Hara's digging reveals Pena had a secret life. Few readers will be surprised that the detective manages to crack the case in the nick of time. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The first two chapters are where we first encounter Francesca Pena on Thanksgiving Eve as she steps out of an apartment building in the city's East Fifties, and the author's description of the neighborhood are so accurate. She heads Downtown and meets up with her friends in a very hip new bar in Nolita, and proceeds to get wasted. Leaving the Lower East Side bar in the early morning she feels nauseous, and contemplates hailing a cab, but something happens...
We meet our protagonist Darlene O'Hara in the beginning of the third chapter, a striking redhead in her mid-30s who has an eighteen-year-old son (just do the math) named Axl. The author's descriptions of her and the surroundings are quite vivid, as can be seen here:
"Detective Darlene O'Hara licks the cranberry sauce off her thumb and savors the penultimate bite of her homemade turkey sandwich. She is enjoying her modest feast in the empty second-floor detective room of Manhattan's Seventh Precinct, overlooking a windswept corridor of the Lower East Side where so much unsightly city infrastructure--including a highway, bridge ramps, dozens of housing projects and this squat brick station house--has been shoved against the East River."
Her shift at the Seventh Precinct goes fairly quickly until a suspect from the projects is brought in, and Darlene interviews him. The next evening she and her partner, Serge "K" Krekorian, who is "built like a fire hydrant," do a visit the projects, just north of the Williamsburg Bridge. It doesn't lead to much. Their shift ends, and heading back to the precinct house, she encounters a young man in his late teens who has been waiting to report a missing friend, one Francesca Pena. She interviews him, taking down all of the pertinent information.
It's a slow build, but Darlene methodically checks the long list of hospitals resulting in no reports. She visits NYU's campus security, picking up various tidbits of background information. And as the story builds, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary simple story of a missing person, especially when Pena's bound up body is found encased in a plastic shower curtain with multiple wounds and abrasions.
As the investigation into her life moves on, Detective O'Hara and her compatriots find more about this dead nineteen-year-old, finding a seemingly studious young woman, somewhat social and adored by her friends, one who had an occasional lover, but who was also involved in volunteer work.
So what was NYU student Francesca Pena's secret life?
As the story escalates, author de Jonge skillfully takes us on a tour of Manhattan, from the towers of NYU to Riker's Island to the sleazy underbelly of New York City of just a few years ago. His characters are realistic, and his settings are frequently gritty. As Darlene untangles bright sides of Francesca Pena's, she discovers a very shadowy and sinister truth. She makes a few bad decisions along the way, and she will have to fight to keep her shield.
The title of the book is itself fascinating, and makes one wonder where did Peter de Jonge come up it? Without dropping any real spoilers, think of the name of Darlene's teenage son, Axl Rose O'Hara. Then listen to the lyrics of hard rock group Guns N' Roses 1992 classic hit November Rain, written by lead singer Axl Rose. You'll find it there.
It's clear that the author did his research quite well, and the character of Detective Darlene O'Hara grows on you. Lucky for those of us who enjoy mysteries and good police procedurals, there's a sequel, Buried on Avenue B, released in the summer of 2012. But for now, this reader can subjectively offer that Shadows Still Remain is a top-notch and highly recommended 5-star read in this genre.
O'Hara is a splendid character. First of all, she's a smart, driven woman. Second, she has some quirks that make her seem truly authentic, such as drinking a bit too much and being wholly in love with her engaging mutt, Bruno. In addition, she has a great back story. She had a son when she was 16 and named him Axl Rose O'Hara. Then she resisted all kinds of family pressure to give him up for adoption. At a certain point she managed to get herself accepted to the police academy and then proved to have considerable skill at tracking down criminals, which helped her achieve detective status. Now she's a headstrong, self-reliant woman who holds her own in a man's world.
And she's funny. This book, as well as the second, has some laugh-out-loud moments, which made me wonder about myself because I was chuckling through some pretty gruesome scenes. De Jonge is adept at creating and then lampooning the classic archetypes that one finds around New York City -- the trendy boutique owner, the high-class madam, the hard boiled police commander, the terminally hip college student. He writes very well, keeping up the suspense and pace while also giving readers a keen sense of New York ambiance.
Unlike many other female detectives, O'Hara is less interested in meeting Mr. Right than she is in finding out who done it, which easily makes her my all-time favorite gal sleuth, surpassing my former fave, Linda Barnes's Carlotta Carlyle of Boston. If you like police procedurals, and especially if you enjoy female detectives, you will like De Jonge's O'Hara.
In this book, O'Hara is not yet in Homicide. She and her partner only deal with burglaries and domestic abuse. But when a body turns up in her precinct, raped and tortured to death, O'Hara has seventy-two hours to investigate before the case is turned over to Homicide. Even then, she can't let go of the case, because the arrogant Homicide detective has fixed on absolutely the wrong suspect, in her opinion.
So O'Hara conducts a rogue investigation with the help of her loyal partner. Her inventiveness, her boldness, and her consumption of alcohol are all astonishing. If you've ever felt that the cards are stacked against you, that you see clearly when no one else does, that you (and you alone) can save the day, I think you'll identify with this gutsy maverick cop.
The plot revolves around how O'Hara gets her murderer. And in the course of this riveting adventure, O'Hara makes shocking discoveries about the victim as well as the killer.
The New York setting is authentically portrayed and gives the story a delightfully seedy flavor.
As an unrepentant boozehound, O'Hara may not be politically correct. But this is fiction, not real life, and I find Darlene O'Hara refreshingly honest and great fun. I wish Peter de Jonge would hurry up and write more of these books. This in the first in what I hope will be a long series.
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Suspense isn't my favorite genre, so maybe I'm being a little harsh. Or, maybe I'm thick headed - ?Read more