SUGAR SKULL by Denise Hamilton


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Forget about the murder of Isabel Chevalier, the headstrong teenager whose dalliance with Finch Marino and his squatter friends left her dead in a filthy basement and her father sunk in grief. Forget about Ruben Aguilar, the black sheep of a wealthy music-promotion family whose dream of making it on his own as pool cleaner to the stars was ended by a drive-by shooter. And forget each of the other 32 homicides in a single October weekend in the City of the Angels—except for the one that upstages them all, the murder of supersocialite diva Venus Dellaviglia Langdon, whose diplomat husband’s campaign for mayor gets an unexpected jolt, and by no means an unwelcome one, when her splendid body is found floating in her pool, naked and shot to death. Amid the millions of Angelenos commiserating with the suddenly widowed candidate, only LA Times reporter Eve Diamond saw the men’s black Speedo trunks in Venus’s cabana; only Eve knows that Carter Langdon III didn’t wear black Speedos; and only Eve—in between forbidden erotic romps with Ruben’s straight-arrow brother Silvio and threats of discipline by newspaper higher-ups who don’t know half the details of her broken-field running—is gradually building a case that will connect all three murders in dizzying, sickening ways.

Hamilton (The Jasmine Trade¸ 2001) shows that she’s every bit as ambitious in tackling big-city corruption as Sara Paretsky. Despite the overloaded plot and the often overscaled emotions, few readers will be able to resist her V.I. Warshawski with a tape recorder and a California tan.

Pub Date: March 25th, 2003
ISBN: 0-7432-4539-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2003


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