Jack Liffey's new girlfriend, Gloria Martinez, a police sergeant of Paiute-Latino heritage, talks him into looking into the disappearance of her beautiful 18-year-old niece, Luisa, from a tiny reservation in the Owens Valley.
To escape abuse, the girl had threatened to run away to L.A.'s porn industry, and in fact does become caught up in the phone sex business, then hostessing, and finally the trashy business of videotaping the homeless engaged in wildly dangerous stunts. Luisa is fought over by a motley band of lowlifes and would-be rescuers, including the Jamaican Trevor "Terror" Pennycooke, whom Jack knows from an earlier case. The hunt for Luisa comes together in the Malibu Hills, where a bumbling army of suitors and rescuers touch off a gun battle and dangerous firestorm that sweeps Jack and everyone else ahead of it down the Malibu Hills toward the ocean.
When an aimless shot from a car full of teens strikes Jack Liffey's 16-year-old daughter, Maeve, the professional child finder has no intention of allowing justice to follow its aimless course in Shannon's lively eighth series mystery (after 2004's Terminal Island). Gloria Ramirez, the policewoman with whom Liffey lives in East Los Angeles's Boyle Heights, tries to distract him by arranging to have him hired to look for her hopelessly na ve niece, Luisa Wilson, who's disappeared and believed headed for L.A.'s porn factories. Shannon nails bizarre characters like two shady filmmakers, Kenyon Styles and Rod Whipple, who dream of hitting the big money by filming contrived disasters. Gloria's neighborhood has its share of dangers but also its share of charms. Though seedy characters abound, Liffey prefers to look on the bright side: "I'd like to believe everybody's just an inch from okay.... A little less this, a little more that." The world Liffey inhabits is far from okay, but watching him struggle to make a small difference is big entertainment.