An Oakland PI works to discover whether a former fellow worker’s death was accident or murder.
Jeri Howard is already mourning the loss of her mentor when she receives a visit from Madison Brady, whose father, Cal, has just been found dead. Cal and Jeri used to work for the same agency until he was fired for a drinking problem. Madison assures Jeri that her father had joined AA and was clean and working as a security guard for a company owned by a friend from their days in the Navy. His body was found in the water near the Cardoza project, where he was one of the guards for an area marked for an upscale apartment complex. Roland Cardoza and his sons, Stephen and Brice, are all involved in the company. Brice had been trying to get Cal fired for drinking, and everyone at the job assumes he was drunk and fell in the water. But the autopsy results, when they finally arrive, reveal no alcohol in his system and some bruising that could have been caused by an assault. Meanwhile, Jeri’s learned that Cal had been trying to help an undocumented worker who was fired after getting hurt on the job and that the Cardozas may have an illegal connection to a pro-growth local assemblywoman in a city that remains conflicted over the replacement of affordable housing with high-end apartments. With some help from one of Cal’s fellow guards and her own boyfriend, Jeri digs deep into past and present problems in Cal’s life to find a motive for murder.
The amiable heroine (Cold Trail, 2015, etc.) is easy to like, but Dawson hasn’t given her much of a mystery this time, and the minutely detailed look at Oakland, which considerably slows the story’s pace, is most likely to interest house hunters.