Shelby’s debut introduces a San Diego private eye whose latest case teaches him that the professional can sometimes be intensely personal.
Noah Braddock usually cold-shoulders La Jolla types like Ken and Marilyn Crier, taking just enough cases to pay for his Mission Beach bungalow and spending the rest of the time riding the waves with his best friend Carter Hamm. But Kate Crier was Noah’s first love, and finding her corpse in the trunk of her car jolts him into letting her parents hire him to find her killer. His ex, LAPD cop Liz Santangelo, thinks it’s open and shut: Kate was a junkie muling for Tijuana heroin boss Alejandro Costillo, so Costillo must have executed her. Liz seems to have a point, especially after Costillo’s thugs beat Noah and put Carter in the hospital. But he can’t quite reconcile Kate the addict with the bright, beautiful girl who broke his heart before flying off to Princeton. And as he interviews Kate’s widower, Russell Tower—a doctor so morally bankrupt he cheated on his mistress, hospital administrator Charlotte Truman—and Kate’s sister Emily, who reveals to Noah how much he meant to Kate even as she becomes surprisingly significant to him herself, he realizes that, as in the ocean he lives for, the most interesting stuff isn’t on the surface.
Sharp dialogue and splashy local color make Shelby’s first outing more fun than a day at the beach.