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Dirty Laundry

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Charlotte Justice Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wood redefines L.A. urban noir as an explosive blend of race relations, politics and murder in her third installment (after Stormy Weather) of the award-winning Charlotte Justice series, which follows the career of an African-American LAPD detective after the 1978 gang-related murder of her husband and son. Fast forward to 1993, 11 months after the riots, to an L.A. still struggling with post-Rodney King tensions. Justice, now assigned to Robbery Homicide, is investigating the murder of Vicki Park, a young Korean campaign worker for Mike Santos, a former news anchor who is now a mayoral candidate. On her first case since a suspension for her part in "the mishandling of a confessed murderer," Justice, along with Det. Billie Truesdale, has to work alongside some "female-hating, trash-talking cowboys," but solving the crime unites them in a common purpose. Woods's gift for realistically depicted police work, tight plotting and succinct characterization serves her well, notably with angry, self-righteous African-American patrol supervisor Tony Brackeen and Asian Task Force Det. Young "King" Kang, who introduces Justice to the workings of Koreatown's underside. Justice's visits to her family's "Nut House" for folksy consultations and her rushed moments with boyfriend Aubrey round out this satisfying, fast-paced police procedural. Its only flaw may be that the rush to "justice" is too swift, and that the plot threads-the suspicious suicide of a former Japanese WWII criminal living in L.A.; the enigma of Park-could have been developed further.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Charlotte Justice, an African American homicide detective in the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division, is part of another elite crew, that of fictional women cops who are multidimensional and fun to watch. Justice has a tragic past: her husband and infant daughter were murdered years back. Woods gives us a convincing portrayal of a grieving widow and mother without stooping to an easy, formulaic use of Justice's tragedy. In the latest in the Justice series (previous novels include Inner City Blues [1999] and Stormy Weather [2001]), L.A.'s Koreatown is shaken by the discovery of the body of a well-known young Korean woman, a campaign strategist for a mayoral candidate. It is a high-profile case, and Justice must slog through messy city politics, her colleagues' infighting, and the Korean community's hostility to police in an investigation that grows both uglier and more threatening every day. Riveting. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345464397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345464392
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Paula L. Woods is the author of the Charlotte Justice mystery series, including STRANGE BEDFELLOWS (2006). In conjunction with publication of the fourth novel in the series, Paula is sponsoring the Get Justice! Sweepstakes on her website, www.woodsontheweb.com, where a lucky winner can win a weekend in Los Angeles. She invites you to visit the site and enter the sweepstakes.

DIRTY LAUNDRY (2003), third novel in the Charlotte Justice series, was named a best mystery by the Seattle Times and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel STORMY WEATHER (2001), the second in the series, was a September 2001 Penzler's Pick on Amazon.com and was named one of the best books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. INNER CITY BLUES (1999), the first Charlotte Justice mystery, was on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list for three weeks and was also named by the newspaper as one of the best books of 1999. Inner City Blues received the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, was named Best First Novel by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony awards for best first mystery novel.

Paula began writing mysteries after studying the genre and editing the critically acclaimed anthology SPOOKS, SPIES, AND PRIVATE EYES: BLACK MYSTERY, CRIME, AND SUSPENSE FICTION OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1995). Although SPOOKS, SPIES was nominated for an Anthony Award, Macavity Award, and received a special award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Woods always thought a voice was missing from the collection, "that of a female cop who was tough as nails but feminine enough to get her nails done." Charlotte Justice was her dynamic addition to the genre.

With Felix H. Liddell, Paula also wrote and/or edited the best-selling I, TOO SING AMERICA: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN BOOK OF DAYS (1992), as well as MERRY CHRISTMAS, BABY: A CHRISTMAS AND KWANZAA TREASURY (1996), and I HEAR A SYMPHONY: AFRICAN AMERICANS CELEBRATE LOVE (1994), the latter of which won Fiction Honors from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Multicultural Literature.

A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she reviews books regularly for the Los Angeles Times and has served a a mystery columnist for the Washington Post.

Paula is a member of Mystery Writers of America and other crime writing associations. She has also served as an Edgar judge, on the Author Committee of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and speaker at the festival.

Paula's novels are noted by critics for their searing analysis of race and gender politics in the LAPD, portrayal of a loving if dysfunctional family and strong evocation of Los Angeles' diverse ethnic communities. An L.A. native, Paula's lifelong love of books and reading has resulted in the growth of her personal library to over 1,000 volumes.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Paula Woods has brought back the sharp-edged, tough-talking detective, Charlotte Justice, in her latest mystery, Dirty Laundry. As always, readers can expect a supporting cast of a diverse group of detectives from all walks and cultures of the greater Los Angeles area on duty, getting the job done and putting their own twist on the murder case involved. When Vicki Park, a Korean-American woman is found dead behind a Laundromat it becomes symbolic of the dirty laundry that is thrown around throughout the novel. The murder is immediately counted as a celebrity murder as Vicki is an assistant to the Latino candidate for mayor, Mike Santos, a charismatic guy, who has some dirty laundry of his own. This is a year after the Rodney King riots in 1992 and relationships between Koreans and the Black and Latino residents of the neighborhoods where they have businesses are tenuous, to say the least. They also feel they have not been supported by the police department and the city, in general.
Charlotte is at the best place in her life as she approaches her fortieth birthday-in fact she has never been better. After the devastating, violent deaths of her husband and baby daughter fourteen years prior, she has finally found happiness with a great man, Aubrey and has made peace with her manipulative mother, who is a snob. In fact, Charlotte calls the family home where her upper-class African American family congregates, the Nut House. As a detective in the highly regarded Homicide and Robbery division, she has gone through more than her share of drama in the department. She comes into the Park murder after a particularly rough year when she brought accusations against her former superior while she was required to appear before a police commission for questionable conduct while on duty.
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Format: Hardcover
Police work involves quite a bit more than fighting crime. There is, and always has been, a political and cultural element to it, as well as the tide of different ethnicities that ebb and flow into and out of a city. This is hardly a recent development; Irish police resented the influx of Italian officers into the New York City and Chicago police ranks during and after the turn of the 20th century; the New Orleans Police Department for years roiled with the uneasy mixing of Italian and French South Louisiana officers, who in turn, had to adjust to the inevitable but overdue influx of black officers into the ranks.
The race of the officers is not the only factor that affects a police department, however. Nor is the size of the city the department patrols. There is a municipality within spitting distance of my residency that has made national headlines by virtue of the fact that it exists solely to support its police department, which writes traffic tickets by the handful, in order to support its police department, which writes traffic tickets by the handful, in order to...well, you get the idea.
Most police procedural novels lead the reader painstakingly through the evidence-gathering process, and while they may touch on the internal and external politics of the department, that touch is light and almost incidental. That is not the case with the Charlotte Justice novels.
Justice is a black homicide detective in the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division. Her creator, Charlotte Woods, has carved out a series in which Justice and her supporting characters are constantly evolving, making mistakes, paying for them, and moving on.
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Format: Hardcover
With the city still reeling from the aftershock of the Rodney King riots, the mean streets of Los Angeles have gotten a lot meaner and more treacherous as African-American detective Charlotte Justice of the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide division returns to active duty after serving out a four-month suspension following a previous investigation which had ended tragically. Three weeks away from a potentially explosive...multi-candidate...mayoral primary, LA is a powder keg of racial/political tensions that's ready to blow at the slightest provocation. When Charlotte and her new partners, black lesbian Billie Truesdale and white 'newbie-Tec' Roger Middleton, catch their first case as a team (the cold-blooded killing of a politically-well-connected Korean-American woman whose dead body has been found bound, gagged and dumped in a Koreatown alley), it could well prove to be the high-profile spark that will destroy LAPD's last remaing shreds of credibility and set the city ablaze. Savvy, stunning Vicki Park had been working as a campaign strategist for charismatic, former news-anchor Mike Santos who is running hard and well-ahead of the pack in his campaign to become LA's first Mexican-American mayor. Apparently dissatisfied with the role which she's being asked to play in his race, has Vicki's discontent caused her murder? Charlotte's investigation becomes further complicated by another death...that of a Korean detective who has been serving as her link with the community: was it an accident or was he set up? and she needs every bit of her hard-won street smarts, detective skills and self-control to work her way through a maze of false clues, misleading information and an old-boys' Department network that would like nothing better than to see her lose her badge permanently.Read more ›
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