In her award-winning Charlotte Justice novels, Paula L. Woods has created a rare blend of mystery, suspense, and an unflinching social critique of urban, multiethnic America. Featuring an African American homicide detective in the LAPD’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, this Charlotte Justice novel is a sizzling story of murder, politics, families, and betrayal in the uneasy melting pot of Los Angeles, where everyone has their own. . . . dirty laundry
For Charlotte and her team, the case begins when a woman’s body is found in L.A.’s Koreatown district, where a series of robberies and murders has already put besieged merchants on edge. Now the spectacle of a bright, successful young Korean woman found bludgeoned and bound in an alley is stirring fears, passions, and city politics. In the hours after Vicki Park’s murder, Charlotte Justice must contend with a complex crime scene and a beleaguered community’s hostility toward the police.
Interestingly enough, Vicki (like Charlotte) lived and worked in two different worlds: her close-knit Korean community and the wider political world where she served as a special aide to handsome, media-savvy Mike Santos, whose is vying to become L.A.’s first Latino mayor. With twenty-four candidates running to replace a long-standing African American incumbent, the mayor’s race is shaping up as a wild brawl, full of dirty tricks and innuendo. Is Vicki’s murder connected to the campaign or is the answer to be found in the ethnic enclave that nurtured Vicki—and that may now be hiding her killer?
While Charlotte searches for answers, she must also navigate the perils of life in the LAPD, which complicates her personal life, namely her budding relationship with Aubrey Scott, an emergency-room physician. Justifying her relentless hunt for Vicki’s killer as part of her mission as a homicide detective, Charlotte must face the possibility that her motivation may also be to ease the pain she feels over the violent death of her husband and young daughter years before—a possibility that is challenged in unexpected ways.
A powerful story about families and the secrets they keep, Dirty Laundry is a fast-paced, deeply human thriller that builds to a powerful climax. Featuring one of the great female characters in detective fiction today, this book is a fascinating portrait of Los Angeles from the streets of Koreatown to the power corridors of City Hall. Dirty Laundry is Paula Woods’s richest, most rewarding novel to date.
Wood redefines L.A. urban noir as an explosive blend of race relations, politics and murder in her third installment (after Stormy Weather) of the award-winning Charlotte Justice series, which follows the career of an African-American LAPD detective after the 1978 gang-related murder of her husband and son. Fast forward to 1993, 11 months after the riots, to an L.A. still struggling with post Rodney King tensions. Justice, now assigned to Robbery Homicide, is investigating the murder of Vicki Park, a young Korean campaign worker for Mike Santos, a former news anchor who is now a mayoral candidate. On her first case since a suspension for her part in "the mishandling of a confessed murderer," Justice, along with Det. Billie Truesdale, has to work alongside some "female-hating, trash-talking cowboys," but solving the crime unites them in a common purpose. Woods's gift for realistically depicted police work, tight plotting and succinct characterization serves her well, notably with angry, self-righteous African-American patrol supervisor Tony Brackeen and Asian Task Force Det. Young "King" Kang, who introduces Justice to the workings of Koreatown's underside. Justice's visits to her family's "Nut House" for folksy consultations and her rushed moments with boyfriend Aubrey round out this satisfying, fast-paced police procedural. Its only flaw may be that the rush to "justice" is too swift, and that the plot threads the suspicious suicide of a former Japanese WWII criminal living in L.A.; the enigma of Park could have been developed further.