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


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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The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.


Twenty years after Chloe Davis’ father was convicted of killing half a dozen young women, someone seems to be celebrating the anniversary by extending the list.

No one in little Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was left untouched by Richard Davis’ confession, least of all his family members. His wife, Mona, tried to kill herself and has been incapacitated ever since. His son, Cooper, became so suspicious that even now it’s hard for him to accept pharmaceutical salesman Daniel Briggs, whose sister, Sophie, also vanished 20 years ago, as Chloe’s fiance. And Chloe’s own nightmares, which lead her to rebuff New York Times reporter Aaron Jansen, who wants to interview her for an anniversary story, are redoubled when her newest psychiatric patient, Lacey Deckler, follows the path of high school student Aubrey Gravino by disappearing and then turning up dead. The good news is that Dick Davis, whom Chloe has had no contact with ever since he was imprisoned after his confession, obviously didn’t commit these new crimes. The bad news is that someone else did, someone who knows a great deal about the earlier cases, someone who could be very close to Chloe indeed. First-timer Willingham laces her first-person narrative with a stifling sense of victimhood that extends even to the survivors and a series of climactic revelations, at least some of which are guaranteed to surprise the most hard-bitten readers.

The story is sadly familiar, the treatment claustrophobically intense.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2508-0382-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Minotaur

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.


Emerson’s striking debut follows a Navajo police photographer almost literally to hell and back.

Rita Todacheene sees dead people. Since most of her attempts to talk to someone about her special power while she was growing up on the reservation ended in disaster, she’s tried to keep it to herself during her five years with the Albuquerque Police Department. Her precarious peace is shattered by the death of Erma Singleton, manager of a bar owned by Matias Romero, her common-law husband. Although lazy Detective Martin Garcia has ruled that Erma fell from a highway bridge, her body shattered by the truck that hit her on the roadway below, Erma insists that she was pushed from the bridge. “Help me get back to my baby,” she tells Rita, “or I’ll make your life a living hell.” Since Rita, a civilian employee, has few resources for an investigation, Erma opens a portal that unleashes scores of ghosts on her, all clamoring for justice or mercy or a few words with the loved ones they left behind. The nightmare that propels Rita forward, from snapping photos of Judge Harrison Winters and his wife and children and dog, all shot dead in what Garcia calls a murder-suicide, to revelations that link both these deaths and Erma’s to the drug business of the Sinaloa cartel, is interleaved with repeated flashbacks that show the misfit Rita’s early years on her Navajo reservation and in her Catholic grade school as she struggles to come to terms with a gift that feels more like a curse. The appeal of the case as a series kickoff is matched by the challenges Emerson will face in pulling off any sequels.

A whodunit upstaged at every point by the unforgettably febrile intensity of the heroine’s first-person narrative.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-641-29333-4

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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