California Girl

by T. Jefferson Parker

William Morrow, October, 2004.
Hardcover, 384 pages.
ISBN: 0060562366

California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker T. Jefferson Parker mines the dark depths of passion, politics, and sibling rivalry in this gripping police procedural set mostly in 1968 Southern California. Nick Becker is one of four brothers, and a fledgling homicide detective. His first case is to investigate the brutal killing of the beautiful Janelle Vonn, the younger of two sisters that the Beckers have known all their lives. Nick's brother Clay has been killed in Vietnam, his brother David is a preacher who ministered to Janelle and Andy Becker is an investigative journalist for the Orange County Journal. Ever since an incident in their childhood, when the Becker brothers bested the Vonn brothers in a showdown at the SunBlesst Oranges packinghouse in Tustin, California, the Beckers have tried to look out for the younger Janelle, who had a tough life. When she is found murdered, each of the brothers starts his own investigation, taking the reader through a maze of politics, family secrets, drugs and violence. The past refuses to stay buried, and the more the brothers investigate, the more dangerous life becomes.

T. Jefferson Parker takes readers back to 1968 and all the currents that were swirling on the political landscape. Richard Nixon, the John Birch Society, the CIA, Timothy Leary, LSD -- they all show up in perfectly written cameos that add texture and realism to the story. Parker has a gift for dialogue and setting: his characterizations ring true. Absorbing, atmospheric, violent, and evocative, California Girl is T. Jefferson Parker's best work yet.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the September-October, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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