A cesspool of miscreants floods a strong tale of conscience and crime.

THE STORM DRAIN MURDER

A lawyer leaves Los Angeles for life in a small town but finds it full of thieves, murderers, and too many women in this mystery.

Chain-smoking, Jason Brinkman, in his mid-30s and once a highly paid associate at an LA law firm, struggles financially after moving to Sea Cliff on the coast. Unknown to him, it’s a town that nearly everyone is dying to get out of, at least one of them literally. Jason’s wife, Courtney, a rising star at his former firm, wants a divorce, announcing, “You’re holding me back, Jason.” Unlike Jason, she apparently didn’t refuse to sleep with the firm’s top producer for decades, Gretchen Fautz. Expenses and child support deluge Jason, who counts on getting money from Geraldo O’Brien, his biggest client and the builder to whom he lent his life savings to finance a luxury spec house. Rumored to be involved in drug dealing and a man who always said he wanted to live in Mexico, Geraldo has disappeared along with his girlfriend, Danni Tedeski, and Jason’s money. Left behind is Danni’s teenage daughter, Tiffany, who has a drug problem. Jason worries about Tiffany because his own unhappy childhood mirrors hers. In spite of Jason’s having local waitress Erin Jones as his main squeeze, a long-legged blond named Rory catches his attention, and young, tube-topped Nikki Beach has designs on him. What suddenly puts Jason and the whole town on notice is the televised hoisting of a rotting corpse that two kids spotted lodged in a storm drain. An abundance of intriguing characters doing really bad things moves Cameron’s engaging story quickly to the finish line. Adding another level are the incisive questions of conscience and ethics that plague Jason. Writing can be first rate, for example: “Jason’s parents had enjoyed too much success early in life and not enough later. With success came drugs and alcohol, and as success dwindled, more drugs and more alcohol.” But this book limits Latinos’ roles to drug dealers, thieves, and laborers.

A cesspool of miscreants floods a strong tale of conscience and crime.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5481-8636-4

Page Count: 390

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

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A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

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THE DARK HOURS

Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules.

New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed.

A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.”

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48564-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

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BILLY SUMMERS

The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.

“He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too.

Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982173-61-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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