Tag Archives: L. A.

A Review of Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell Hall

Trail of Echoes: A Detective Elouise Norton Novel

Trail of Echoes by Rachel Howzell HallTrail of Echoes: the latest Elouise Norton mystery novel from critically acclaimed writer Rachel Howzell Hall.

On a rainy spring day in Los Angeles, homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is called away from a rare lunch date to Bonner Park, where the body of thirteen-year-old Chanita Lords has been discovered. When Lou and her partner, Colin Taggert, take on the sad task of informing Chanita’s mother, Lou is surprised to find herself in the apartment building she grew up in.

Chanita was interested in photography and, much like Lou, a black girl destined to leave the housing projects behind. Her death fits a chilling pattern of exceptional African-American girls–dancers, artists, honors scholars-gone recently missing in the same school district, the one Lou attended not so long ago.

Lou is valiantly trying to make a go of life after her divorce and doing everything she can to avoid her long estranged father. She races to catch a serial killer, but he remains frustratingly out of her reach, sending cryptic cyphers and taunting clues that arrive too late to prevent the next death. This one is personal, and it’s only a matter of time before he comes after Lou herself.

Book Details

Series: Detective Elouise Norton (Book 3)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (May 31, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765381176
ISBN-13: 978-0765381170
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

About the Author

Rachel Howzell HallRACHEL HOWZELL HALL is the author of Trail of Echoes (Forge), the third novel in her new mystery series featuring LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise Norton. The first, Land of Shadows, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and was included on the Los Angeles Times’ “143 Books to Read This Summer” and the U.K Telegraph’s “Top Ten Crime Books for Summer.” Rachel was also a featured novelist on NPR’s acclaimed ‘Crime in the City’ series.

Her first novel, A Quiet Storm, was a featured selection of Borders’ Original Voices program, as well as an alternate selection of the Black Expressions book club. She is the marketing manager of individual giving at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Rachel lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles, the land of exceptional drought.

Excerpt from Trail of Echoes

Chapter 1

At twelve thirty on a rainy Wednesday after noon, I was breaking one of my cardinal rules as a homicide detective: Never eat lunch with civilians. But on that Wednesday in March, I sat at a Formica- topped table in Johnny’s Pastrami with no ordinary citizen.

Assistant District Attorney Sam Seward had eyes the color of mint leaves, hands that could palm Jupiter, and a mind agile enough to grasp the story arc of Game of Thrones.

I had a crush on Sam.

He liked me, too, even though I associated “bracelets” with “handcuffs” and smelled of gun oil more than lavender. And so when he had asked if I wanted to grab a pastrami with him, I had immediately chirped, “Sure. Why not?” I wanted to have Normal People Lunch with ketchup that squirted from bottles and conversations about March Madness instead of murders, bodies, and blood. More than that, I wanted to have Normal People Lunch with Sam.

And now he smiled at me like the secret goof he was. And I futzed with the belt of my cowl- necked sweater like the nervous virgin I hadn’t been in twenty years.

Outside, clouds the color of Tahitian black pearls and drizzle softened the crimson glare of car brake lights. Inside, the diner smelled of meat and onions, and George Harrison crooned from hidden speakers about the way she moves.

“Elouise Norton,” Sam said, shaking his head. “I cannot believe it.”

I nibbled a sliver of pastrami. “Why not? I do violence all day.”

“Which is why I can’t believe you’d watch a show on your downtime that’s all decapitations and grit for an hour and three minutes.”

I gasped. “You made me watch it.”

He smoothed his slate- blue tie. “ Couldn’t talk to you about the Darson case forever.”

Sam was prosecuting Max Crase, the man who had murdered high school cheerleader Monique Darson, her sister Macie, and my sister Victoria. Now recovering from a brain tumor, Max Crase had pled insanity. And well . . . “insane” was just one word I’d use to describe him.

“Nor do I want to talk about the Darson case now.” I smiled at Sam, then pointed at his face. “You have mustard . . .”

He squinted at me. “Get it off, then.”

My heart pounded— I loved challenges.

I waited a moment . . . then leaned forward.

He moved aside sandwich baskets and almost- full glasses of Diet Coke, then leaned forward but only a little. “Closer,” he demanded.

I waited . . . then obeyed.

His butterscotch- colored cheeks flushed.

With his face an inch away from mine, I parted my lips.

And the bell tower tolled: the ringtone for Lieutenant Zak Rodriguez.

Sam crooked his neck, going for the kiss.

But the bell tower tolled again— louder and crankier this time.

“Sounds official,” Sam whispered.

Going cold, I sank into my seat. “It’s my boss.” I reached for Sam’s hand as my other hand grabbed the phone from my purse.

“Where you at?” Lieutenant Rodriguez asked.

“Having pastrami and soda pop.”

“With Taggert?”

Sam kissed my hand before he let go.

“Nope.”

“Pepe and Luke?”

I pushed my bangs off my flushed forehead. “Nuh uh.”

Lieutenant Rodriguez sighed. “Please say you’re not with your ex.”

“ Don’t worry. I’m not.”

“Hate to break it up, but you’re on deck. Some joggers found a body up in Bonner Park.”

My ankle holster, stuffed now with my lunch gun, pinched my skin— death had a way of yanking you from Wonderland. “ Really? This early in the day?”

“And whoever left it there is one cold son of a bitch.”

“ Aren’t they all?”

“He put it in one of those large duffel bags, the kind soldiers carry. And he left it there on the trail. In this weather.”

Outside our window, the wind had picked up, making palm fronds frantic and street signs swing. Back in the calm mustiness of Johnny’s, someone had dropped a quarter into the tabletop jukebox and had pressed E6: Olivia Newton- John asking if I’ve ever been mellow.

“Yeah,” Lieutenant Rodriguez was saying, “and where he left it? Up on that trail? It ain’t the typical boneyard. Anyway, I’ll call Taggert and we’ll meet you over there. Maybe you shoulda had one of your salads today. Edamame and shit instead of all that meat.”

Martha Bonner Park. Hills, trees, valleys— a beautiful jewel in the city’s crown. I jogged, hiked, and fed ducks there whenever I wasn’t watching divers pull guns and bodies out of its murky- green fake lake.

“Gotta go?” Sam asked, eyes on his iPhone.

“Yep.”

“Same here. I’m helping to plan Congresswoman Fortier’s jazz funeral.”

“Saturday, right?”

He nodded. “A second line down Crenshaw. A horse, a brass band, all of it.”

I dug in my purse for the car keys. “How many permits did you all have to pull for a New Orleans homegoing in the middle of Los Angeles?”

He rubbed his face. “You have no idea. And I hear all of NOLA is coming to usher her into the great beyond.” He emerged from behind his hands with a smile. “But I’m glad we had a moment to ourselves.”

I blushed. “Me too.”

Even though this was our first date, nothing else needed to be said or explained. I gotta go. No apology, no weird hostility. He, too, had to keep LA from exploding.

Oh, how I liked Sam.

Hand in hand, we walked to the parking lot, stopping at the light- blue Crown Vic that would stink of mildew until August.

“So you owe me.” Towering over me, Sam rested his hands on my waist.

I tensed, aware of my bulky ballistics vest, hoping that he didn’t think that was all . . . me. “Owe you? For what?”

“For ending our lunch so soon.”

I shivered— not because of the forty- degree weather. “Bullshit. We were basically done.”

“I wanted pie.”

I straightened the collar of his black wool overcoat. “Fine. You’ll get your pie.”

Then, my freakin’ iPhone caw- cawed from my pocket: the ringtone for Colin Taggert, my partner of nine months.

Sam dropped his hands and backed away from me. “If your case is a dunker, come over to night and watch something other than a basketball game. You could bring pie.”

“Maybe.”

“You’ll call me?”

“Yes.”

And the eagle caw- cawed again: America was calling.

I plucked the phone from my pocket. “I’m on my way,” I told Colin, slipping behind the Ford’s steering wheel. In the rearview mirror, I watched Sam climb into his black Bimmer.

“The body in the—” Colin sneezed, then sneezed again. “The body in the park. Prepare yourself: it’s a girl.”

Just when you’re trying to be mellow.

Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Howzell Hall

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A Review of No Cure for Love by Peter Robinson

No Cure for Love: A Novel

by Peter Robinson

This book was first published in 1995, and is set during that time, so in many was this is sort of a period police procedural. The tech is 25 years old, but that’s OK. The detectives can’t check the traffic cams or try to find someone using their cellphone’s GPS chip, they have to use old-fashioned police work. California has changed a lot in 25 years too, but nothing feels too dated.

Most of us know Peter Robinson as the author of the Inspector Banks series, which are set in northern England, near Yorkshire. The southern California location of No Cure for Love is quite a change for Mr. Robinson, but he pulls it off quite well. It never feels artificial. He gets it right, but he does keep some of his Britishness in his writing. He tones down the gore, and keeps the characters more civilized. His main character, Sarah Broughton, is a British actress  and the lead detective, Arvo Hughes,  isn’t a California native. He grew up in the Detroit area and only had been in LA three years. The minor characters have an LA feel to them, but they really aren’t very developed.

Since this is a stalker type story, it has many things that you have seen before. There are a series of letters written by the stalker. Some of the chapters are the first person thoughts of the stalker. The stalker wants to impress Sarah, so he sets up a scene near her house. That sort of stuff. There are a few twists, but this isn’t a Jeffery Deaver book, by any means.

This was an easy book to read. I enjoyed it. I liked Sarah and Arvo. It could have been a decent start to a series, but was probably more of an experiment for Mr. Robinson. He was sticking his toe into the American book market. It probably didn’t sell well enough to warrant continuing. After all he had DCI Banks. He had published his seventh Banks book in 1994 and No Cure for Love was just a diversion.

I give No Cure for Love 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up. If you feel like a mild psychological thriller set in sunny LA, give it a try. This won’t give you nightmares.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

No Cure for LoveOriginally published in 1995, No Cure for Love is being reissued this year, with an introduction by Michael Connelly. This relentlessly suspenseful thriller from the New York Timesbestselling and Edgar award-winning author of the Inspector Banks novels marks the first time that Peter Robinson has set a novel in America.

Sarah Broughton has come a long way. She’s the star of a hit cop show on TV. She lives in a beautiful California beach house. And—most importantly—she’s put her dark past behind her… as well as her old name, Sally Bolton. No need for anyone to know about that.

When Sarah begins receiving letters mysteriously signed with the letter “M,” she thinks they’re from a harmless admirer… until her real name appears in the third letter. And then she finds that name inscribed in the sand near her home – next to a body.

The message is clear: Someone is watching Sarah’s every move. Someone so obsessed with her that he won’t stop at just one murder in order to prove his love.

Panicked, Sarah turns to Detective Arvo Hughes of the LAPD, a man who specializes in hunting down the most dangerous stalkers. But nothing in Hughes’ experience has prepared him for the mastermind he’s up against. For the killer, there’s no cure for love. And for Sarah and Hughes, there’s no way out.

Book Details

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062405101
ISBN-13: 978-0062405104
Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

About the Author

Photo © Pal Hansen
Photo © Pal Hansen

Peter Robinson is the bestselling author of the Inspector Banks series, two short-story collections, and three standalone novels, which combined have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Among his many honors and prizes are the Edgar Award, the CWA (UK) Dagger in the Library Award, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.

A Review of Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Guilt by Association

by Marcia Clark

This is a very well written first novel by a prominent Los Angeles attorney. Ms. Clark knows what goes on behind the scenes in the L. A. legal system and is able to portray the human side of dealing with the criminal investigations and the victims of the crimes. She does this using a couple of prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Special Trials Office, Rachel Knight, and her friend, Toni LaCollier, along with Bailey Keller, a detective in the LAPD Major Crimes Division. The three of them work together to get around some of the barriers that are in place when their colleague, Jake Pahlmeyer, is found dead in a rent-by-the-hour motel, along with the body of an underage boy, who is a known male prostitute. The police are calling it a murder-suicide, and the F. B. I. are all over it.

Ms. Clark gives all Guilt by Association smallthree women very full, rounded, and mainly believable personalities. They are each quite different, but you see their similarities, and really think that they would be friends, both inside and outside of the office. Rachel Knight is the main character, but all three women make up a team of comrades. The rest of the cast of characters are also quite interesting and believable. The multiple story-lines are well thought out and really work. There are many lighter parts, and not much gore. There are a few tense sections, but this is more of a mystery rather than a thriller.

All in all, this was a great introduction to a new series, and one that I am going to continue to read and review. Ms. Clark has just released the fourth novel in this series, The Competition, and instead of just reading and reviewing that one, I decided to start at the beginning. The publisher and NetGalley had made all four books available, so I will be reading and reviewing them in order. I am really looking forward to the next book, Guilt by Degrees.

I give Guilt by Association 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up. I recommend this book to people who like mysteries without a lot of gore or violence, and like modern women as main characters.

I received this book for free from NetGalley.com

Book Description

Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city’s most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.But she can’t stop herself from digging deeper into Jake’s death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation–and her life–to find the truth.With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene. – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/marcia-clark/guilt-by-association/9780316129510/#sthash.FCBnnYvP.dpuf

Los Angeles D.A. Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wise-cracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city’s most elite division. When her colleague, Jake, is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault of a young woman from a prominent family.

But she can’t stop herself from digging deeper into Jake’s death, a decision that exposes a world of power and violence and will have her risking her reputation–and her life–to find the truth.

With her tremendous expertise in the nuances of L.A. courts and crime, and with a vibrant ensemble cast of characters, Marcia Clark combines intimate detail, riotous humor, and visceral action in a debut thriller that marks the launch of a major new figure on the crime-writing scene.

Product Details

Format: Hardcover Book
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Imprint: Mulholland Books
Price: $25.99 US/$28.99 CAN
Pages: 368
Physical Dimensions: 6″ x 9-1/4″
ISBN-13: 9780316129510
On Sale Date: 04/20/2011

About the Author

Marcia Clark began practicing law as a criminal defense attorney. She became a prosecutor in the L.A. District Attorney’s Office in 1981, and spent ten years in the Special Trials Unit where she handled a number of high profile cases prior to the O.J. Simpson case, including the prosecution of stalker/murderer Robert Bardo, whose conviction for the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer resulted in legislation that offered victims better protection from stalkers as well as increased punishment for the offenders.

Since the Simpson trial, Ms. Clark has toured the U.S. and Canada giving lectures on a variety of women’s issues including domestic violence and inspirational/motivational speeches, as well as lectures on the latest high profile cases, public service careers, and of course, the Trial of the Century.

In May of 1997, her book on the Simpson case, Without a Doubt was published and quickly rose to #1 on the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers lists.

From February 1998 to 2000 Marcia was under contract as a legal analyst and expert commentator for NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. She appeared weekly as the substitute host of Geraldo Rivera’s “Rivera Live,” and also hosted “Equal Time” for CNBC and “Judge and Jury” for MSNBC. Marcia has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “Larry King Show,” the “Today” show, “The Early Show,” and “Good Morning America,” among others, and provides legal commentary on a wide variety of cable shows such as “Anderson Cooper 360” and “Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell.”

Marcia Clark (with writing partner, Catherine LePard) has sold hour-long pilots to the FX network, Lifetime, and VH1 and developed a half hour comedy for NBC. She has also developed reality projects for CBS and was an executive producer of a one hour reality pilot for CBS.

Marcia has published three novels which feature Los Angeles Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight: Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, and Killer Ambition, which is due out in June 2013. TNT has optioned the books and a drama series is currently in development. Marcia is attached as an executive producer. She’s currently at work on her fourth novel.

Book description, details and author information from the publisher website. Guilt by Association