An Orange County woman details her four-year investigation into the violent death of her mother in Mexico in this debut memoir.
On March 15, 2006, Taylor received word from her sister that their mother, Jane Kling, had been missing for several days. While Taylor wasn’t surprised since “Mom had checked out of her life before, without much regard for our feelings, and then returned without explanation,” Kling hadn’t asked anyone to look after her dogs, and she had just opened her own business. Taylor had kept aloof from her four times–married mother in recent months, but she initiated a missing person campaign, and the Mexican police contacted the family a week later. Kling’s partially undressed corpse, with evidence of physical (but not sexual) assault, had been found in a remote part of Baja, and her van and valuables weren’t taken. Navigating Mexican and California police bureaucracies, Taylor fought to keep the case open and solicited the help of former FBI profiler Candice DeLong and forensic pathologist Michael Baden to review the investigation and autopsy photos that she managed to acquire. Four years later, Taylor was able to help close the case on how her mother died—although certain mysteries remain. Taylor’s debut memoir is a gripping account of her diligent search for answers. Kling is a highly memorable, colorful “ghost” presence throughout the account; various red herrings reveal that Taylor’s mother likely had been living some kind of double, secret, or at the very least compartmentalized life. A particularly dramatic moment is Taylor’s astonishment, upon viewing her mother’s corpse, that Kling had a “porno-belt” of flower tattoos in her pelvic area plus recently put similar markings across her breasts. Some of Taylor’s narrative strands, such as the appearance of a woman who claimed to have been Kling’s best friend, are not fully wrapped up. Still, such open-endedness rather suits this story, an evocative tale of seeking, if not getting, complete closure.
A fascinating journey into an enigmatic case and equally elusive parent.