Review Of A Manhattan Murder Mystery

A Manhattan Murder Mystery
An Irina Curtius Mystery
Susan Bernhardt
5 Stars+


Irina Curtius, a retired ballet dancer living on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, runs a ballet studio for young children. Recently, she has been watching her younger and otherwise healthy neighbor, Stephen Kramer, become ill over time. When Stephen travels for business, his health always seems to improve dramatically after he has been away, but only temporarily. Within days of returning home, his health begins to deteriorate again. On top of that, Stephen has added stress due to problems he is having with his wife and his irate live-in sister-in-law. Sadly, Stephen’s last bout with his mysterious illness has proven to be fatal. Unsatisfied with the official explanation and in order to deliver justice for her friend and neighbor, Irina sets out to uncover the truth and prove that Stephen was indeed murdered.

It won’t be easy, though. A former lover from Irina’s college days at NYU has suddenly reinserted himself into her life, wanting to pick up where they left off. Additionally, a mysterious newcomer arrives in Irina’s neighborhood and he now seems to be shadowing Irina, appearing everywhere she goes. The story that unfolds, interwoven in the everyday lives of Irina and her social circle, highlights the unpredictability of life, the best and worst of humanity, and the powerful bonds that drive people together (and apart). (Goodreads)


The characters are well rounded, well developed and three dimensional. The author knows how to create characters that the reader can care about, cheer for, worry about and want to get know better. I wanted to spend more time with Irina, maybe have her over for tea and scones. I also enjoyed the other characters in the book and liked the interactions between them all.

There is more than one mystery in this book. One is what happened to Stephen, was it a natural death or was it suicide, as the authorities believe? The other is the mystery of a stranger that has appeared in Irina’s life. She sees him everywhere and does not who he is or what he wants with her. And the third mystery is why an old boyfriend has reappeared in her life. Does he just want to rekindle their romance or does he have another motive?

While reading this book, I felt like I was watching a classic murder mystery movie. It reminded of the classic Alfred Hitchcock movies that I always love watching. All of the plotlines are expertly woven together and so detailed that it is hard to catch your breath when reading this book (this is a great thing).

The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and through much of the book I felt like I was right there, watching all the action taking place around me. I have never been to New york, but I felt like I was there, seeing the neighborhoods and apartment buildings and all the sights and sounds that the city has to offer. I felt like I was on a mini-vacation while reading this book.

If you’ve read any other books by this author, you know that she loves to describe food in great detail. Do not read this book without a few snacks nearby because you will be hungry from reading about so many delicious foods and beverages. This just adds another layer to the greatness of this book, in my opinion.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted, well plotted, character and action driven cozy mystery. I would also recommend reading the Kay Driscoll Mystery series, written by this author. In my opinion, she is an author not to be missed.