From critically acclaimed author Steph Cha-Los Angeles-based P.I. Juniper Song is back in a thrillingly written, masterfully plotted story of how far a mother will go for her child
Finally a licensed private detective, Steph Cha's "compelling and original" (LA Times) crime heroine Juniper Song is managing her own cases as the junior investigator of Lindley & Flores. When a woman named Rubina Gasparian approaches Song, she knows she's in for her most unusual case yet. The daughter of Armenian immigrants, Rubina and her husband Van recently learned that she cannot get pregnant-so they hired Rubina's younger cousin, Lusig, to act as a surrogate. However, Lusig's best friend Nora has been missing for a month, and Rubina is concerned that her cousin is dealing with her stress in a way that could harm the baby. Rubina hires Song to shadow her and report all that she finds. Of course, Lusig is frantically searching for her friend, and Song's case soon turns into a hunt for the missing woman, whom she finds was deeply embroiled in a public and ugly battle to erect an Armenian genocide memorial. As Song probes the depths of both this tight-knit immigrant community and the groups who antagonize it, she realizes that someone was willing to stop at nothing to ensure Nora's silence. But can she find the killer before it's too late for Rubina and Van's child-or for Song herself?
A gorgeously written, tightly plotted, and emotionally charged read, The Surrogate is an unforgettable story of love, parenthood, and the things we do for our children, perfect for fans of Lisa Unger and Tana French.
Cha wins the reader's sympathies for her L.A. PI at the outset of her outstanding third Juniper Song mystery (after 2014's Beware Beware). When at age 22 Song "was broke, bored, and quietly depressed, and had no strength to fight the call of easy money," she decided to become an ovum donor and sold three sets of her eggs for $48,000. Years later, a new case revives memories of what for her was a questionable decision. Rubina Gasparian, a 37-year-old doctor who's unable to conceive with her husband, has arranged for her 26-year-old cousin, Lusig, to serve as her gestational surrogate. With only a month to go before the due date, Rubina is anxious that Lusig isn't taking care of either herself or the fetus, and she hires Song to follow Lusig. The gumshoe finds that Lusig's main source of stress is anxiety about a friend who's been missing for about a month, Nora Mkrtchian, the daughter of Armenian immigrants from the Soviet Union. Nora ran a website devoted to discussing the Armenian genocide of 1915, and her blog posts attracted a lot of creepy haters, so Song's focus shifts from Lusig to ascertaining Nora's fate. Veronica Mars fans will be pleased.