From HarperCollins ~ This is Pat Capponi’s world. No tourist on the mean streets of Toronto’s once prosperous Parkdale neighbourhood, Capponi—a psychiatric survivor who has chronicled her experiences in several bestselling non-fiction titles—has lived there. Now, in this compelling debut novel, Capponi turns her authentic voice and imagination to a gripping murder mystery.
Dana Leoni is Capponi’s heroine, a traumatized woman who has retreated from life to a rough rooming house. Surrounded by the marginalized and the mad, she is devastated when one of her housemates turns up dead. When, despite the disappearance of another neighbourhood woman, the police reach a dead end, Dana and her rag-tag posse of housemates—inspired by the novels of Janet Evanovich—decide to go detective and take matters into their own hands. The result is a terrific mystery read, peopled with authentic characters and evocative in its gritty portrayal of a world few of us know. Infused with compassion and wit, Last Stop Sunnyside marks the beginning of a bound-for-bestseller series.
I met Capponi once, back in the late 1990s. I volunteered at the Gerstein Centre for a couple years and there was a four week training period. Capponi was one of the guest speakers during the training. She was an excellent honest speaker and that prompted me to read her memoirs, Upstairs in the Crazy House and Dispatches from the Poverty Line, at that time.
This was her first fiction book (there's sequel that follows). It takes place in my 'hood and it was interesting to read some history of the area.
The characters are very true to life with some of the residents in the 'hood. They live in the rooming house and have nothing but each other. When one disappears and turns up dead, they band together to find out what happened when the police deem it to be a suicide.
Despite the topic and characters, it's not a heavy read and I'd recommend it.