As a preface to any review of the Sigrid Harald series, I think it only right to include the author's note from the final book "Fugitive Colors".
"Lieutenant Sigrid Harald, NYPD first appeared in... "One Coffee With" in 1981. "Fugitive Colors" is her eighth adventure, with each book set in what was - and is - the current "now."
"One Coffee With" began on a blue-sky sunny April day. Spring gave way to summer, then autumn in New York, followed by Christmas and one of the worst Februarys in the city's memory (in Sigrid's memory, too, unfortunately)
For the author, fourteen years have passed. For Sigrid Harald herself, no matter how much internal evidence alert readers may cite to the contrary, it has been only one short tumultuous year.
And now it is spring again. . . "
As mentioned, this jewel of a character study spans the course of eight full length novels plus two short stories, one, "Lieutenant Harald And the `Treasure Island' Treasure" was originally published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and the other, "Lieutenant Harald And The Impossible Gun" first appeared in Marilyn Wallace's fourth anthology. Both can be found in Margaret Maron's short story anthology "Shoveling Smoke".
As other reviewers have noted, these stories must be read in the correct order to fully understand the amazing transformation Sigrid goes through in the span of a short year, both internally and externally. And yet, all of the books can stand alone as well-plotted mysteries. This is the mark of Maron's true genius.
"Baby Doll Games" (1988) - On Halloween at a matinee ballet performance, a shadowy figure kills a dancer in a little Greenwich Village theatre before an audience of horrified children. Sigrid is outraged. Her instincts tell her it was a crime of passion, but she has no evidence. She does, however, have a source of inside information. Her roommate, Roman Tramegra, had been acting as scenarist for the company's production of a new ballet `Ghosties and Ghouls'. This has enabled him to observe the interactions of the troop for several months. Will this be enough to enable Sigrid to figure out what has really been going on that was worth killing to cover up?
Sigrid continues to have her personal life push at the boundaries she would like to set for it. One of the witnesses in the audience turns out to be an old schoolmate of Sigrid's and has her own agenda when it comes to renewing the acquaintance. Another question is why has her boss, Captain McKinnon, specialized in Detective Second Grade Michael Cluett (who is pushing sixty if a day) from Brooklyn to help cover her department's temporary depletion of manpower. Detective Tildon is not expected to return to work before January. But why Cluett, who is so obviously just counting down the weeks until retirement? And Nauman is now ready to take their relationship to the next level. Is Sigrid?
This is another morally ambiguous murder mystery that Margaret Maron excels at; one is left with a profound sadness at the end of the book, knowing that a single decision could have kept things from becoming this dire.