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Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity



Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
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2 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z

California Girl

by

California Girl Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One
Here and Now

I drove past the old SunBlesst packinghouse today. Nothing left of it. Not one stick. Now there's a bedroom store, a pet emporium, and a supermarket. Big and new. Moms and dads and kids everywhere. Pretty people, especially the moms. Young, with time to dream, wake up, and dream again.

I still have a piece of the flooring I tore off the SunBlesst packinghouse back in sixty-eight. When I was young. When I thought that what had happened there shouldn't ever happen anywhere. When I thought it was up to me to put things right.

I'm made of that place — of the old wood and the rusted conveyors and the pigeons in the eaves and the sunlight slanting through the cracks. Of Janelle Vonn. Of everything that went down, there in October, 1968. Even made of the wind that blew that month, dry and hot off the desert, huffing across Orange County to the sea.

I have a piece of the picket fence from the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza, too. And a piece of rock that came not far from where Mercury 1 lifted off. And one of Charlie Manson's guitar picks.

But those are different stories.

 

Later I met my brother Andy at the Fisherman's Restaurant down in San Clemente. Late August. The day was bright as a brushfire, no clouds, sun flashing off the waves and tabletops. Andy looked at me like someone had hit him in the stomach.

"It's about Janelle," he said.

Janelle Vonn in the SunBlesst orange packinghouse in Tustin.

Thirty-six years ago, two brothers who didn't look much alike, staring down at her and across at each other while the pigeons cooed and the wind blew through the old slats.

A different world then, different world now.

Same brothers. Andy stayed thin and wiry. Tough as a boiled owl. Me, I've filled out some, though I can still shiver the heavy bag in the sheriff 's gym.

San Clemente, and you have to think Nixon. The western White House, right up the road. I picture him walking down the beach with the Secret Service guys ahead and behind. Too many secrets and nobody but the seagulls to tell them to. Andy's newspaper ran a cartoon of him once, after he'd been chased out of office, and the cartoon showed him walking the beach with a metal detector, looking for coins. Thought thatwas a funny one. I kind of liked Dick Nixon. Grewup just over the hill from us. He was tight with my old man and his Bircher friends for awhile, used to come to the house back in the fiftieswhen he was vice president and in the early sixties when he'd lost for governor. They'd sit around, drink scotch, make plans. Nixon had a way of making you feel important. It's an old pol's trick, I know. I even knewit then. In fifty-six I graduated from the L.A. Sheriff 's Academy and Dick Nixon sent me a note. The vice president. Nice handwriting. It's still in my collection of things.

But that's a different story, too.

"You don't look so good, Andy," I said.

Brothers and we still don't look much alike. An old cop and an old re-porter. There used to be four of us Becker boys. Raised some hell. Just three now.

I looked at Andy and I could see something different in his face.

"What gives?" I asked.

?Listen to me, Nick. Everything we thought about Janelle Vonn was wrong."

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060562373
Author:
Parker, T. Jefferson
Publisher:
HarperTorch
Author:
Parker, Theresa Jefferson
Author:
by T. Jefferson Parker
Subject:
General
Subject:
Police
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Young women
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
California, Southern
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Mass Market PB
Publication Date:
20051227
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
416
Dimensions:
4 3/16 x 6 3/4

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Historical

California Girl Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.50 In Stock
Product details 416 pages HarperTorch - English 9780060562373 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)
"Review" by , "Love, lust, murder, betrayal, suffering, and redemption all parade by as a brilliant tale-spinner once again has his way with us."
"Review" by , "[A] gripping, atmospheric saga...California Girl is an unforgettable book."
"Review" by , "This is a powerful book filled with great writing. A perfect example of why I read mysteries."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A man much praised doesn't need more encomiums; but T. Jefferson Parker deserves all he gets."
"Review" by , "One of the most entertaining tough-guy writers."
"Review" by , "Evocative. Delicately crafted."
"Review" by , "California Girl is wound tight as a spring and filled with characters you won?t soon forget. Parker is superb."
"Synopsis" by , 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.

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