Blazingly pretty at 19, Janelle Vonn was the quintessential California Girl, and all men were drawn to her, including the one who killed her.
Instead of the Earps and the Clantons, Parker presents the Beckers and the Vonns; instead of the OK Corral, the abandoned SunBlest Oranges packing house in Tustin, California; and instead of a firefight, a rumble, the aftermath of a school-kid incident. That’s when Nick and Andy Becker first set eyes on a five-year-old Janelle, an interested, if curiously detached, witness to her brothers’ humiliation. When the same setting is cordoned off as a murder scene fifteen years later, in October, 1968, with Janelle the brutally mistreated victim, Nick Becker, homicide detective for Tustin PD, is there. So is Andy Becker, crime reporter for the Orange County Journal. For different reasons, Janelle was special to both of them. Catching her killer is a matter of personal importance, though both already lead complicated lives. They independently begin to investigate, uncovering a long and varied list of suspects: a US congressman, a newspaper publisher, a musician, a high-school football coach, a third Becker brother, and even, momentarily, Timothy Leary. Charles Manson makes a brief but chilling appearance as well.
Love, lust, murder, betrayal, suffering, and redemption all parade by as a brilliant tale-spinner (Cold Pursuit, 2003, etc.) once again has his way with us.