In this off-the-beaten-sidewalk debut, native New Yorker Daphne Uviller reveals the secrets of a sexy, story-filled Big Apple, where a mystery lurks behind every apartment door--and a savvy but slightly lost young woman unexpectedly finds herself holding the keys.
In a city brimming with opportunities for heroism, twenty-seven-year-old Zephyr Zuckerman has often fantasized about committing acts of bravery that would make front-page news. Now she may get her big break--though it may require plunging a few toilets. When the superintendent of her parents' Greenwich Village brownstone is led away in handcuffs, unemployed Zephyr takes over his post and unleashes her inner sleuth: discovering titillating secrets about her tenants--from a smoky-voiced Frenchwoman who entertains throngs of unsavory visitors to a moody musician who just has to be hiding something--and realizing that her new reality is far more intriguing than her imagination.
Soon Zephyr has sussed out wrongs that stretch from losers on the Internet to art fraud and an international crime ring. The mob thinks she's in the FBI, and the FBI thinks she's in the mob--a predicament she needs to clear up fast. But perhaps not before the cute, surly exterminator helps her solve the mystery of what to do with the rest of her life....
Uviller's debut is as gleefully unpretentious as the rhinestones on narrator Zephyr Zuckerman's thrift-shop dress. "This is not a Jesus-saving kind of story," Zephyr warns, and, indeed, sex, bodily functions, white lies and general irreverence keep this tale of love, friendship and New York City popping along. Zephyr and her best friends are flawed and lovable: divorc�e party-crasher Tag is a globe-trotting scientist; Lucy, a social worker, writes notes on $10 bills and hopes that the right man will answer her call; Mercedes, a violinist, snags a celebrity boyfriend; and Abigail, a professor, falls into Internet-dating catastrophe. Zephyr, meanwhile, has dropped out of school, and her major concern, other than getting over an ex, is figuring out what she wants to be. So when her super is arrested, Zephyr inherits his post and discovers that there is far more happening under her roof than she can handle. The novel gallops at full speed from the very first line, and though there are times when it would serve Uviller well to rein it in a bit, this is undoubtedly smarter and funnier than most other girls-in-the-city novels. (Jan.)
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January 26, 2009
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