The Haunting on West 10th Street is the 1st-book in the Detective Maria Miller Police Procedural Mystery series by Helen Phifer.
In this story we follow Detective Miller and her partner, Frankie, as they investigate a brutal crime in the attic of a Greenwich brownstone, where decades earlier a beautiful actress was murdered in the same way. The detectives are puzzled by the disturbing similarities between the crimes occurring in this house.
How could they be connected? Do they just have a sadistic copycat on their hands, or something more sinister?
Immediately upon entering the brownstone, Maria feels something dark. It’s a tickle in her senses; unpleasant and unsettling. The dramatic staging of the crime scene only enhances these feelings.
In both the past and present cases, body parts were removed from the victims and not recovered. Additionally, evidence of satanic rituals have been found. Who could possibly want to recreate something so evil?
This story is told using a dual timeline. We follow Maria and Frankie in the present, but we also get a historical perspective featuring the events leading up to the previous murder in the house. Lastly, we do get a modern perspective from an unknown individual, who appears to be our baddie.
I enjoyed getting the multi-perspectives, as well as the history. Although I did find the past sections a little slower-paced than the modern perspectives. With this being said, I still enjoyed the fact that it was told this way and I feel like it gave a lot of needed insight into the property and the characters involved.
The brownstone on West 10th feels like a haunting presence in this story. It becomes a character unto itself and I always appreciate when an author can provide us with such a vivid sense of place.
There is quite a bit of focus on the partnership between Maria and Frankie. They’ve been together for a long time and you can tell that they both care deeply for one another, but with Frankie’s marriage failing, could there be something more?
I know some Readers won’t care for the slight romance plot that’s woven throughout this story, but for me, I found it made the characters feel more realistic.
When you’re working with someone as closely as these two are, over a number of years, there’s bound to be some types of complicated feelings intrinsic to that relationship.
I didn’t feel like the author overplayed that, or let it overshadow the investigative aspects of the story. For me, it was blended in well and felt natural.
I did have the chance to listen to the audiobook for this one and I definitely recommend it as a format for this story. The back-and-forth between the timelines was handled well and the narration is fantastic.
Overall, this was super entertaining. I vibed well with Maria as a character and am definitely looking forward to going along on future investigations with these detectives. The ending was such a great set-up for the continuation of the series. I can’t wait to see what will come their way next.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys darker, Police Procedural Mysteries. Particularly, if you are a Horror fan like me, this may work really well for your tastes. Phifer definitely has a knack for incorporating some paranormal aspects into her mysteries.
Thank you to the publisher, Storm Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to continue on with this series!