I can't believe it, I finally managed to finish reading a whole book! Lucky for me, it was a particularly good one. Last Lullaby by Denise Hamilton is the third book in her Eve Diamond, Los Angeles Times reporter series. This one started out a bit slow for me, but hot damn, what an ending!
Eve is at LAX shadowing a U.S. Customs officer for a story she's working on. Then gunfire erupts in the middle of the terminal. A beautiful Asian woman is dead, her "husband" vanishing into thin air, and their toddler swept up by INS. Eve can barely piece together what happened, what she thinks she saw, but she knows one thing for certain - this poor child is in the middle of a very big mess. So Eve starts snooping and soon finds her own life in danger. Mix in the reappearance of her long-lost ex-boyfriend, Tim, and the man she started seeing in the last book (Sugar Skull), Silvio, and even her love life gets complicated.
It could just have been me and my wacky reading mood, but Last Lullaby seemed to start out a bit slow. I'm going to chalk it up the sheer confusion surrounding the LAX shoot-out and the fact that it takes a 100 pages for Eve to meet all of the players. That said, the whole novel really cooks starting at the halfway point. There are some things I think Eve should have known straight away. I mean, it's never good news when an ex-boyfriend shows up unannounced, and if she read more mystery novels there are certain aspects of the ending she really should have seen coming. But what's great here is that Hamilton weaves a rather complex tapestry - so while some things I saw coming, others took me completely by surprise. It's really damn clever.
In my mind there are four premiere locales for mystery writing - New York City, Miami, Detroit and Los Angeles. Hamilton has L.A. down cold. Hamilton's L.A. isn't glitzy Hollywood glamor (or sleaze), but more what I call the "real L.A." The blue-collar melting pot, brimming with multiple nationalities and ethnicities. They're pretty much all represented here in southern California - the American Dream in practice, although not always running smoothly.
All that said, Last Lullaby was by the far the toughest book in the series to read to date (hey, I've got two more to go). Eve goes through a lot over the course of this book. A lot. Some of it really heart-wrenching and unpleasant. It makes for a powerful read, but also kind of a sad one. I know Eve will be "OK," but this poor girl! Hamilton really sends her through the wringer!
But for readers who can handle the grit - oh what a read! Smoke and mirrors, love and betrayal, heartbreak and sorrow. Mystery fans take note. Final Grade = B+