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by Paula L. Woods

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2006
ISBN: 0-345-45702-1
Publisher: One World/Random House

Racism hounds both black and white families.

Det. Charlotte Justice has never really gotten over the drive-by shooting of her husband and daughter 13 years ago. This, combined with her recent violent caseload (Dirty Laundry, 2003, etc.), has the LAPD brass mandating sessions with the department shrink. Among her current problems: Her brother and her mother have stolen her dead husband’s files from her house; her sister has been incommunicado since she started dating a white man; and the case she couldn’t quite close eight years ago, the Smiley Face Shooting, has been reopened because Nilo Engalla, a Filipino intern in the accounting department of CZ Toys, has reappeared as a car crash victim, with $27,000 in his car trunk, possibly embezzled from the company. Was Nilo paid off to hit CZ CEO Charles Zuccari, now lying comatose in a hospital while his pregnant third wife recuperates at his bedside? Was the real target his new business partner, who was designing a line of black dolls? As Charlotte and her partner, crusty old-timer Thor, work the case, they are conned by FBI rogue Paul Taft, who has mysterious ties to Charlotte’s family, and Zuccari’s many wives and wayward children, all of whom have issues with their racial heritage. More twists than can comfortably fit in the plot will slue the action before Charlotte, deep in grief, is really ready to talk to that department shrink.

A long wind-up and a freeway full of clichés before the plot coalesces and Wood gets around to what’s on her mind.