Talented African-American teenagers from a poor LA neighborhood are targeted by a serial killer.
Elouise "Lou" Norton was once one of those aspiring teens, and now she's a homicide detective who still hasn’t won the promotion she deserves. Beneath her tough exterior lurk some inner demons; she's just divorced her wealthy, unfaithful husband, and the long-ago murder of her sister was only recently solved. Now Victor Starr, the father who deserted the family when she was a child, wants to make amends. Lou’s living with a newspaper-reporter friend and starting a tentative romance with DA Sam Seward when she catches the case of a dead African-American teenage girl found in a duffel bag in beautiful Martha Bonner Park. Lou and her white, Colorado-born partner, Colin Taggert, finally bond over the complex case as they find more victims apparently all killed by the same clever killer. Lou’s even more disturbed when they discover that the first victim lived in the same crumbling apartment complex where she herself grew up. Lou's investigation reveals that several other missing black girls went to the same school as her victim, had the same guidance counselor, and were despised and sometimes attacked by their fellow students for being brighter and more talented than the rest. Although the missing girls are all eventually found in duffel bags in the park, they were killed elsewhere, moved several times, and injected with bug repellent. In a neighborhood where tensions between African-Americans and Mexicans are ratcheting up, a Mexican with a long record of child abuse is an obvious suspect, but there are plenty of others. Lou scrambles to find a killer who enjoys using coded messages and leaving statues of Greek muses on her car. Striving to solve her own personal problems while in the midst of her most difficult case will only make her stronger—if she survives.
The third and best of a finely wrought series (Skies of Ash, 2015, etc.) that gives voice to a rare figure in crime fiction: a highly complex, fully imagined black female detective.