There Was an Old Woman is labeled as a suspense novel, and I suppose that's technically true. To my mind, however, it is also a wake-up call to all of us about how easily in real life vulnerable old people, particularly women, are being taken advantage of all too often. You are old, maybe neglected, live alone and possibly have physical and/or mental issues. That makes you an easy target for unscrupulous con artists, maybe even relatives who want what little you have.
In this wonderful novel each character is so real that the reader really cares about them, or hates them and enjoys seeing their plans go awry. Evie Ferrante is our heroine. She is a curator at the Five-Boroughs Historical Society and she is shepherding a historical artifact from the Empire State Building to feature in her first exhibition. The topic is major fires in New York City, a natural for her since her beloved father had been a firefighter. It was not a good time for her sister to call and demand her help because their mother was hospitalized in bad shape.
That takes Evie back to the neighborhood where she grew up and into the middle of a terrible mess. Mom is an alcoholic and her house looks like a hoarder's. There doesn't appear to have been any maintenance done on the house in years and it is literally falling apart. Evie is sad and discouraged, but when she talks to the neighbor Mina Yetner, the woman becomes a link to the happier past and a friend.
She also meets other neighbors and the man who has taken over his father's general store down the street. He at least is good looking and intelligent, and he is very helpful in her attempts to make the house safe and clean. Mina's nephew on the other hand is obviously up to no good as he seems to spend more and more time with her, and try to keep Evie away.
I was so involved in this story I could hardly put the book down. I figured out early in the book what was happening, although I under-estimated the extent of the crimes. It was the characters who kept me turning the pages, cheering for the old women and hoping Evie could save them from the evil in their midst. It is a psychological rather than violent mystery, but there is a bit of violence involved. I guarantee you will be horrified at the damage done to the victims in the story.
I also enjoyed the history of New York City that is a large part of the story and I think you will too. This is a unique novel and I enjoyed every page of it.
Source: Publisher through Partners in Crime Book Tours