South Central shamus Aaron Gunner (All the Lucky Ones Are Dead, 2000, etc.) emerges from two decades of hibernation to solve a pair of unrelated murders.
One of Gunner’s two investigations is routine, albeit hopeless. Retired engineer Harper Stowe Jr. has engaged attorney Kelly DeCharme, the occasional client who’s been drifting into a romance with Gunner, to clear his son, Harper Stowe III, of killing Darlene Evans, who until a few hours before her fatal shooting had been his boss at Empire Auto Parts. Since the Afghan War vet can’t provide an alibi, and since he suffers from PTSD and was overheard by his childhood friend and co-worker Eric Woods threatening Darlene Evans while she was firing him for cause, and since his fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, the LAPD sees no reason to look further. But Gunner doesn’t like the neat way the evidence all seems stacked against Stowe or the fact that all the witnesses who might help him, from his sometime girlfriend Tyrecee Abbott to Empire manager Johnny Rivera, seem determined to stonewall Gunner instead. And Gunner, rarely a patient man, has even less tolerance for stonewalling than usual because that second case has cut to his heart. Shortly after phoning Gunner to tell him, “They’re gone, cuz. My girls. They’re both gone and it’s my fault,” Gunner’s cousin, electrician Del Curry, is found shot along with his wife, Noelle, and their daughter, Zina, 22. Although Zina miraculously survives, the crime is immediately classified by Detective Jeff Luckman as a murder/attempted murder/suicide, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence to vindicate Del, whose situation would look worse than that of Harper Stowe III even if he weren’t dead.
Memorable mainly for the portrait of the hero’s troubled family within the larger universe of LA’s African American community.