Monday, October 4, 2010

Sugar Tower by Jessica Dee Rohm

Jessica Dee Rohm

Jessica Dee Rohm was born in New York City and graduated from high school as valedictorian at 16.  She went on to Barnard College on a scholarship, following her dream of becoming a journalist.  She loves writing and began her career with The New York Times in the financial news section.  She is the founder of Jessica Dee Communications, a marketing and communications company that had grown to be the sixteenth largest independent PR firm in the USA when she sold it to Chiat/Day.  She was only 30 years old.  Her second business venture was Foreign Management Company, a real estate consulting and brokerage firm catering to foreign investors.

Her personal and professional successes and affiliations are numerous.  She has published numerous feature articles in magazines including regular columns for both Restaurant Hospitality and The Cornell Quarterly.  In addition, she has published many newspaper articles in The New York Times, Hartford Courant, Real Estate Weekly, the Hersham Acorn newspaper chain, and others.  She has been the subject of several feature stories and profiles, and has been featured in two books--The Confidence Factor by Judith Briles and Whiz Kids by Marilyn Machlowitz.

In addition to being one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the country, she is married and the mother of one son and two daughters.  You will recognize daughter Elisabeth as Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, and more recently as Lauren Gilmore on Heroes.
Rohm now devotes her time doing what she loves...writing.

Jessica, daughter Elisabeth, Granddaughter Easton and Daisy

Paperback: 312 pages

Sugar Tower introduces us to Marchesa Jesus Piazza (no relation to Mike), a reporter of real estate news for a major New York newspaper.  Marchesa, or "Mach", is passionate about her career and her Jack Russell terrier, Kitty.  Kitty is modeled after  Rohm's own Jack Russell Daisy, the little cutie in the pictures above.  Mach is 42, and doing a lot of thinking about the state of her husband, no children, and she still hasn't received the Pulitzer she so desires.  She is also concerned about the future of the newspaper industry and how it will affect her future.  

One evening while watching Larry King interview wealthy real estate developer Barry Sugarman, Mach was taken back a year to the day Anabel Trainor Sugarman, Barry's beautiful trophy wife, was found murdered in the pool at Sugar Tower.  Sugar Tower is the recently completed Manhattan condominium built by Barry.  Mach had reported on the murder but the investigation went nowhere and Anabel slipped out of the news.  Mach realized that if she could get permission from her boss to investigate the case and report on it, she could finally get out of real estate news and on to something more interesting, and possibly revive the industry along the way.  

Mach teams with NYPD detective Emilio Urquia and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, re-interviewing witnesses and the other residents of Sugar Tower, inadvertently discovering well-guarded secrets about the employees and wealthy occupants.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  The characters are well-developed and, although most of them were introduced early in the story, are described in a way that avoids confusion.  The storyline is timely in that it revolves around the collapse of the real estate market.  The manner in which Anabel was murdered is unique and quite clever.  It is clear that Rohm extensively researched the functions of the Medical Examiner's Office and her knowledge of the real estate and financial worlds is apparent.  There were no slow-moving sections in the story, even from the very beginning.  I was hooked right away. 

I'm looking forward to reading Rohm's other novels, The Secret Life of Sandrina M. and Make Me An Offer.

Sugar Tower was a quarter-finalist for the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award.

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