Among the million stories, from drive-by shootings to education initiatives, battle-hardened Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond has to file every year, the carjacking murder of Marina Lu doesn’t stand out at first. It’s not until an unrelated story about “parachute kids”—the latchkey teens whose wealthy Asian parents sometimes live thousands of miles away—encourages Eve to dig deeper that she decides the death of the Harvard-bound high-school senior isn’t just another human-interest story. Word is that the Golden Pacific Bank, which Marina’s father Reginald Lu founded and still heads, has unusually direct ways of dealing with delinquent creditors; word is also that Marina’s fiancé Michael Ho is the man in charge of Golden Pacific’s goon squad. And when thieves break into her car, ignoring the stereo but making off with Marina’s diary, Eve is convinced that she’s onto something. It’s her feature on parachute kid Tony Hsu, however, that puts her in touch with the really nasty stuff on L.A.’s Asian-American community, from mentoring programs that are fronting youth gangs to the sexual slavery of young immigrants. To follow all the leads she’s dug up, and stay one step ahead of the villains who drug and shoot at her, Eve needs hands-on help from youth counselor Mark Furukawa. But can she trust this attractive man she barely knows?
L.A. Times alum Hamilton’s first novel is a furiously boiling stew of familiar ingredients: it lacks Edna Buchanan’s eye for the offbeat story but is spiced by an unflinching look at dysfunctional families, upscale–Asian-American style.