In this debut thriller, a retired sheriff’s search for a missing ex-porn star leads to corrupt individuals with their hands in all sorts of illicit deeds—including murder.
Former cop Lt. Jack Conner only got his private eye license on the advice of lawyers who’d hired him for legal investigations. But he puts it to use when, while vacationing in San Diego, he spots an article on the unexplained disappearance of former porn star Asian Sin. Named Sara Jones by her adoptive parents, the missing woman sparks a memory of Xiu Tang, a Chinese medical student whom years ago teenaged Jack had loved. He’s determined to find Asian, first on his own but later with allies he steadily gathers, like adult bookstore owner Bill Parker, sharing Jack’s belief that Asian didn’t vanish willingly. Jack will need all the help he can get, as his probe turns up various criminal activities, from kidnappings to drug running. It’s perhaps no surprise when a few thugs rough him up, because his case threatens to expose any number of baddies. At the same time, he may have something for Keeley Nu, a lawyer for the adult film company that had signed Asian. He is, however, conflicted, a divorcé who falls in love too quickly but can’t quite commit as strongly to a woman as he does to investigative work. Lemley’s book has the earmarks of a detective story; Jack even gets a paycheck, eventually signing an agreement with Asian’s attorney, Dallas Xiao Xu, to protect their mutual exchange of information. But while there’s mystery and plenty of twists (especially character links), there are likewise signs of espionage. Jack faces gangsters, conducts surveillance outside the United States, and occasionally dodges bullets with capable pals, most notably Dan, Dallas’ driver who’s more than he seems. Tracking down Asian, though, is the main plot and never falters, and despite the bevy of bad guys and ensuing false leads (concerning the missing woman), the tale’s not convoluted. Jack’s not the most likable protagonist: he beds a few women, notwithstanding his apparent love for Keeley. Such a flaw makes him engrossing, and he furthermore acknowledges his womanizing, but it certainly doesn’t earn him sympathy.
An unyielding private investigator who unravels a mystery, and takes out criminal organizations in the interim.