Mary Anne Kelly went from Queens and Catholic School to living in Europe, driving the Silk Route and journeying the Tibetan refugee camps of Nepal and India.
She worked as a model and song lyricist, married and settled in Rockville Centre where they raised their son. She is currently at work on number eight in the acclaimed Claire Breslinsky series.
Before you knew it, Mary had the marmalades lined up like soldiers; blueberry for her husband Stan, apricot for raven haired Carmela (her eldest and her fashion columnist), orange for Claire (her long-lost wandering photographer come home at last), grape for Zinnie (her good humoured, blond policewoman) and mint (again) for Michaelaen (Zinnie's son and his grandma's own miracle, just four years old.)
That's the Breslinskys, in their Richmond Hill, Queens, kitchen,"eleven miles and ten thousand light years from Manhattan." But crime doesn't stop at the East River, and when a child is horribly murdered in the woods near the Breslinsky’s house, the family’s thoughts fly to Michaelaen; even more so when a second child is killed.
The killings bring Detective Johnny Benedetto into the Breslinsky’s lives and most particularly into Claire’s, who is not at all sure she wants him there. Devastated by the death in action of her policemen twin, Michael, Claire had fled to Europe, to India, only to be back now in Queens hoping to find the purpose and the peace she seeks. Johnny is a disturbance, and not only because he is a cop.
And Machaelaen, not being told what has happened in the woods, still knows very well that it was something bad, and hugs to himself his secret- a secret as alive with danger to the little boy as a rattlesnake.
Claire stood up hastily and went back down the stairs. It couldn't be. She snapped on the light and a hole dropped from her stomach.
The line full of black and whites- the whole lot of them- were gone. Claire blinked. There were color slides scattered all over the floor. Claire turned gray. Detective Ryan, right behind her, put his hand on her sholder. "Don't tough nuthin," he said. "Don't even think about it. Somebody hadda been watching the house," the cop was saying. "How else would he know they were all gone?” Somebody... who knew all about her.
“Oh, come on," Claire said. Detective Ryan bit his lip. This was a riot. Somebody was actually after this girl and she was telling him to "come on." He felt like slapping her in the face to wake her up.
"Listen,” Zinnie told him, "Those were the pictures she was taking up in the woods. Somebody didn't want their picture around. That was the murderer." Ryan winced. No point in scaring the shit out of her.
- from Park Lane South, Queens < Read more
"This delightful debut introduces a modern yet traditional New York City family Stan and Mary Breslinsky and their three daughters: acclaimed photographer Claire, police officer Zinnie, and fashion columnist Carmela, plus Zinnie's four year old son Michaelaen... Kelly escalates the suspense while demonstrating an unerring sence for the nuances of family and other relationship."
- Publisher Weekly
"Kelly... makes all of this seem so real, so dense with details that it's hard to relinquish the warmth and vitality of the Breslinsky household when it's over."
- Washington Post Book World Review
"Set in the Richmond Hill Neighborhood of Queens, New York, this outstanding first novel revolves around photographer Claire Breslinsky who has returned to her childhood home after ten years abroad... Kelly's unusually compelling and sensitively written novel boasts a well crafted plot and excellenct characterization."
"In recreating the Richmond Hill Neighborhood where she lives, first time novelist Mary Anne Kelly has brought together a sharply drawn ensemble of characters, each with a distinctive voice... Kelly's name can rightly be added to the growing list of women wirters who have added depth to the mystery genre."
- San Antonio Express News
"One hopes, of course, [ the Breslinskys ] will all be back soon."
- Michelle Slung, reviewing Park Lane South, Queens Washington Post
It is inevitable that such a vital family as the Breslinskys would not have faded away after a single encounter. Here ...
they all are. Time has passed, Claire has married her cop, Johnny Benedetto, they've produced a son. As Foxglove opens, they are excitedly moving into a new house, just a few steps away from parents Mary and Stan, still "eleven miles and ten thousand light years from Manhattan."
And a lovely surprise: just across the street is Claire's old school friend Theresa - "Tree" - with a husband and little girl of her own. But it's a strangely fearful Tree, with only glimpses of the exuberant and often lawless girl Claire remembers. And befroe she can get all her dishes on the shelf, Mary calls to say that Tree is dead.
Claire, always prescient, has a feeling that Tree's death is not a natural one, that somehow a whiff of evil trails her handsome widowed husband. She determines to learn the truth behind her friend's life and death- a determination with some unexpected and frightening results.
To the cast of characters that lived so vibrantly in Kelly's first book- sisters Zinnie and Carmela, the somewhat mysterious Stefan, young Michaelean- Kelly adds others who cannot fail to absorb the reader, wandering. Suspenseful, humorous, and ultimatley surprising, Foxglove more than lives up to the promsie of the author's predceding work. < Read more
"As in the first book, Kelly combines a first-rate mystery with resonant exploration of the multihued nature of family relationships. On the basis of just two books, Kelly has become a major talent in the mystery field."
- Booklist ( Starred Review )
"Kelly's is a strong contemporary mystery voice; the antics and angst of the Breslinsky clan will make you wish there were more pages in Foxglove."
- Hartford Courant
The characters who have come to life in Mary Anne Kelly's previous Book, Park Lane South, Queens and Foxglove, have become so vivid and fully realized that finding them again in this new book is like going to a party where you know you will meet a lot of friends and encounter some new people as well.
Kelly has transformed an ordinary setting one of New York City's neighborhoods and some on the surface ordinary individuals into such a rich mixture that, as Washington Post has said, "it's hard to relinquish [their] warmth and vitality... when it's over."
Clare Breslinsky Benedetto's life as a Queens housewife and mother is very different from the one she had ten years earlier, when she was part of the international art and modeling scene in Germany. But some friendships remain, and Claire is looking forward to a visit from her friend Isolde. Then Isolde calls with amazing news. She is not coming; Claire must come to Europe instead, because Isolde is about to marry Claire's old lover.
Claire's eccentric old neighbor, Iris von Lillienfeld, begs her to go, talking mysteriously about a treasure that was hidden near a bucolic old mill when she fled the Nazis as a child. If Claire doesn't find treasure ( or even if she does ), she does meet murder, temptation, and an odd kind of happiness, and the story of her journey is by turns terrifying, tender, and sweetly sad. < Read more
When the Breslinsky family first appeared in Park Lane South, Queens, they immediately become the reader's next-door neighbors, whether that reader lived in Queens or California. Hearts went out to Claire, the family adventurer, who wandered Europe and India and came back to Queens to marry a New York City cop.
With two subsequent books, it became more and more apparent that the doings of Claire and and her family go beyond any genre except that of the lives of real, if fictional, people, and especially the life of a woman of today.
Now comes Jenny Rose, a beautiful novel that adds a whole arm of the family to the story and a whole new facet of life for Claire. When Mrs. Breslinsky's sisiter Bridget dies in a fire, the family must send a representative to the funeral in Ireland, and Claire is elected. (Sure, Dad answers to a Polish name and so do his offspring, but Mom has her roots planted firmly in the Auld Sod.) With some relief, Claire leaves the two children with her possibly philandering husband and is off to Ireland.
It's another world- the beautiful green fields, the country village, the lilting speech, the quirky aunts and uncles and cousins, even the local animals. Claire is already dizzy from the shock her mother gave her just as she was leaving. Mary Breslinsky confessed that the reason Claire's older sister, Carmela, was given the special "treat" of accompanying her mother on a visit to Ireland as a teenager was so that she could give birth in secret to the baby she was carrying.
That baby, Jenny Rose, raised by her Aunt Bridget, is now an almost woman, a wildly independent person, and an artist of enormous talent and promise.
Claire, made lightheaded by the sights and sounds and people, also finds a personal temptation of her own. Film director Temple Fortune, with whom she became infatuated in Germany a few years earlier, is living in a nearby seaside town. Shaken by husband Johnny's attentions to a neighbor woman, far from her parents and sisters, Claire finally has a chance to turn her fantasies into reality. Should she?
This lovely book, imbued with emotion and humor, with Kelly's unique literary touch and slightly fey imagination, is a great step forward for a fine and ever-growing author.< Read more
“When true love hits,” he used to tell her- like he knew he was talking about – “you can almost hear it go click." She'd cried for months, really. Cried when people came to look at the house. Cried at the closing. Cried at the lawyer's when she'd filed for divorce. Cried, especially, when the children tired to be kind.
Well, it was over. She wasn't crying anymore. ...
DIVORCE HAS LEFT CLAIRE BRESLINSKY with two teenagers and very little cash. So maybe it's rash of her to buy a huge and very dilapidated mansion in Queens. The plan, such as it is, is to somehow magically transform the place into a charming, profitable bed-and-breakfeast.
A fire at the Cordelia Inn, Claire's incipient hostel, brings fear of arson- and a firefighter with an eye for Claire. Then the wealthy contractor threatening Claire's business offers to rent Claire's best room. Buy why?
From Kelly's first book, Park Lane South, Queens, the events in the life of the Breslinsky family have been followed by readers who feel they are sitting in Mary Breslinsky's kitchen. The author's gift for breathing genuine life into her characters is on brilliant display in this stirring portrait of Irish-Polish fortitude.< Read more
Claire Breslinsky is in Munich working as a model. At a wine-soaked dinner at her landlady Isolde's flat, an odd assortment of friends agree on a whim to drive in a string of caravans to India, taking photographs and filming along the way for a documentary that will eventually pay for the trip. And so the trek begins, during which Claire learns a good bit about India and a great deal more about the voyages of the heart.