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California Girlby T. Jefferson Parker
Synopses & Reviews
A different world then,
a different world now...
California in the 1960s, and the winds of change are raging. Orange groves uprooted for tract houses, people flooding into Orange County, strange new ideas in the air about war, music, sex, and drugs, and new influences, ranging from Richard Nixon to Timothy Leary.
For the Becker brothers, however, the past is always present — and it comes crashing back full force when the body of the lovely and mysterious Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned orange-packing plant. The Beckers and the Vonns have a history, beginning years ago in high school with a rumble between the brothers of each clan.
But boys grow up. Now one Becker brother is a cop on his first homicide case. One's a minister yearning to perform just one miracle. One is a reporter drunk with ambition. And all three are about to collide with the changing world of 1968 as each brother, in his own unique way, tries to find Janelle's killer.
As suspects multiply and secrets are exposed, the three Becker brothers are drawn further into the case, deeper into the past, and closer to danger.
"Set on Parker's usual turf, this Orange County, Calif., saga is a family drama carefully wrapped around a mystery involving a murdered beauty queen. Back in 1954, the Becker brothers, David, Nick, Clay and Andy, win a fight with the wrong-side-of-the-tracks Vonn brothers at the Sunblesst orange packinghouse. After the rumble, the Vonns' little sisters, Lynette and Janelle, show up to throw rocks. Thus begins a lifelong association between three of the brothers and the two girls. In 1968, Janelle is back at the packinghouse, only now she's lying dead on the floor, her decapitated head several feet from her torso. Nick is with the county sheriff's department working his first case as lead detective. Brother Clay has been killed in Vietnam, Andy is a reporter on a local newspaper and David is a minister. Framing the occasionally glacial narrative with Nick's present-day reworking of the case, Parker (Cold Pursuit, etc.) introduces a wide variety of quirky period characters, from stoned-out hippies to Dick Nixon and his conservative cronies, one of whom might be Janelle's killer. Readers should think mainstream novel rather than thriller and prepare to wait patiently for the rewards offered by this intricately plotted tale. Agent, Robert Gottlieb. (Oct.) Forecast: A solid push by the publisher is an attempt to move Parker from regional to national bestseller lists, though this rather slow entry makes that a long shot. Five-city author tour. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Love, lust, murder, betrayal, suffering, and redemption all parade by as a brilliant tale-spinner once again has his way with us." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] gripping, atmospheric saga...California Girl is an unforgettable book." Wall Street Journal
"This is a powerful book filled with great writing. A perfect example of why I read mysteries." Deadly Pleasures
"Parker's drum-tight prose and richly layered characters borrow a bit from Raymond Chandler...as well as...Dennis Lehane, but Girl easily earns Parker his own spot on the shelf between these two masters." Entertainment Weekly
"A man much praised doesn't need more encomiums; but T. Jefferson Parker deserves all he gets." Los Angeles Times
"One of the most entertaining tough-guy writers." Esquire
"Evocative. Delicately crafted." Orlando Sentinel
"California Girl is wound tight as a spring and filled with characters you won?t soon forget. Parker is superb." Janet Evanovich
The Orange County, California, that the Becker brothers knew as boys is no more — unrecognizably altered since the afternoon in 1954 when Nick, Clay, David, and Andy rumbled with the lowlife Vonns, while five-year-old Janelle Vonn watched from the sidelines. The new decade has brought about the end of the orange groves and the birth of suburban sprawl. It is the era of Johnson, hippies, John Birchers, and LSD. Clay becomes a casualty of a far-off jungle war. Nick becomes a cop, Andy a reporter, David a minister. And the decapitated corpse of teenage beauty queen Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned warehouse.
A hideous crime has touched the Beckers in ways that none of them could have anticipated, setting three brothers on a dangerous collision course that will change their family — and their world — forever.
And no one will emerge from the wreckage unscathed.
About the Author
T. Jefferson Parker is the author of eleven previous novels, including Silent Joe and Cold Pursuit. He lives in Fallbrook, California.
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