“So good it makes the heart leap.” —Time A Santa Barbara PI falls in with one of California’s most dangerous families
Two years ago, Kate Blanchard and her partner failed to stop a tragedy. When a man killed his family and then himself, Kate didn’t even fire a shot. Two years later, Kate is divorced, and trying to make it as a private detective. Young, wealthy Laura Sparks hires Kate to look into the suspicious death of her lover, a marijuana smuggler who committed suicide in jail. As Kate gets sucked into the darkness of the Sparks family, she learns that the rich and powerful can be just as dangerous as a madman with a gun.
From its first few pages, Freedman's third novel (after Against the Wind) offers readers the feeling that they're in the hands of a writer who can tell a good story and give them a protagonist worth caring about. Freedman takes the premise of what might be called the classic California mystery--a powerful monied family with a closet full of skeletons--and dresses it up in a swath of current fashions, including offshore oil drilling, battered wives and drug smuggling. The result is an exciting modern thriller with a classic feel, thanks in no small part to a spunky, all-too-human heroine who has her own deeply buried reasons for pursuing a case that everyone is telling her to drop. Ex-cop Kate Blanchard, now a Santa Barbara detective, is hired by Laura Sparks after her boyfriend, who is accused of drug smuggling, hangs himself in jail. Laura, the headstrong daughter of Miranda Sparks, the city's biggest mover and shaker, is convinced that her boyfriend was innocent and that his death was no suicide. She's only half right, but that's enough to make somebody want to kill Kate--somebody who is involved with the Sparks family's attempt to cut a secret deal with an oil company to use Sparks land for a slant-drilling operation. Plot, character, writing--everything is top-notch as Kate's dogged pursuit of the truth results in a smart, detailed, fast-moving novel that is rewarding on all levels.