Life isn’t easy for Colleen Hayes in 1978 San Francisco. She’s an ex-con who hopes her daughter will want her back in her life. She needs to keep her sketchy security job so her parole won’t be revoked. And when a dying rich man hires her to find who murdered his daughter 11 years ago, Colleen will find her own life in danger.
When Colleen learned that her husband had been abusing their 8-year-old daughter, Pamela, Colleen killed him. She served 9 years in prison, and when she got out in 1977, she came to San Francisco to search for Pamela. Instead, she ended up helping a cop find the killer of Pamela’s friend. Now, a year later, it’s that tenacity that wealthy Edward Copeland values. His teenage daughter, Margaret, was murdered in 1967, her killer never found. Copeland, along with his surviving daughter, Alex, wants Colleen to find any answers while he’s still alive. Colleen’s questions, though, lead to another murder and put her own life in danger. Tomlinson (The Darknet File, 2019, etc.) deftly makes us not only understand Colleen, but root for her. He also does an excellent job of capturing the times of 40 years ago—Colleen can barely afford cigarettes at 40 cents a pack and spends hours making phone calls on a pay phone and digging for records; current readers will have to remind themselves not to think “Why doesn’t she just Google that?”
Even with an ending some might find abrupt, Tomlinson’s confidence in his characters will have readers ready for his follow-up.