Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

First Sentence:  The northern stretch of Mulholland Highway ended in a T intersection with Mulholland Drive.

Deputy Eve Ronin has experienced a meteoric rise in her career.  She is the youngest female homicide detective in the LA County Sheriff's Department history. With that comes the resentment of her colleagues, including her partner, Det. Duncan Pavone, who is about to retire. Now Eve is the team leader in a case with a missing mother, two children, and their dog from a house where there is plenty of blood evidence, but not a single body.

One can always depend on Lee Goldberg for quick, wry humor—"they could be mistaken for a father and daughter who liked to carry Glocks."—and the occasional bit of wisdom—"Let me give you some advice. …when ship happens to you, it isn't always personal."

Goldberg creates an interesting collection of characters.  Eve is perfectly portrayed as one who is young and ambitious, but a bit in over her head.  Her partner, Duncan, is the seen-it-call cop who is counting the days to retirement but is willing to mentor his young partner.  In some ways, he's the most interesting character of the lot.  Eve's mother is the classic Hollywood want-to-be-but-never-made it figure who just can't imagine anyone not wanting to be an actor. While she may have been intended as comic relief, she ends up being more annoying than anything.

It’s disappointing of an author when the investigator’s case is weak and based on assumptions.  Goldberg did just that. Ronin tries to make the case fit the suspect rather than looking further.  Rather than making the character seem fallible, it diminishes the reader’s ability to identify with the character.

It's easy to see Goldberg's background as a scriptwriter.  There are too many coincidences and an over-the-top plot, but the pacing and dialogue are well done, keep the story moving, and the reader involved.    

LOST HILLS is a good, quick read. It is a perfect airplane book.

PolProc-Deputy Eve Ronin-Los Angeles-Contemp)
Lee Goldberg – 1st in series
Thomas & Mercer, Jan 2020, 240 pp.
Rating:  G+/B+

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