From Publishers Weekly
Hamilton's fictional counterpart, L.A. Times
reporter Eve Diamond (The Jasmine Trade
, etc.), investigates another murder in California's melting pot. When unpredictable actress Catarina Velosi fails to show up for her play's premiere, Eve and her boyfriend, Silvio Aguilar, are dispatched to find her. Bloodstains in Catarina's Echo Park apartment lead Eve to suspect foul play—and the police to suspect Silvio. Eve's got an unwelcome sidekick in Felice Morgan, a slick young African-American reporter with hot credentials. Is Felice another Jayson Blair? Is Silvio tied to the murder? Eve and Felice pursue the case, interviewing Catarina's old drama teacher, the alcoholic wife of the playwright, an assemblyman's flirtatious assistant, a drug-dealing neighbor and a Hollywood mogul, among others. Like Raymond Chandler, Hamilton describes California in gritty, lyrical prose; like Sue Grafton, she shows a tough-skinned, tenderhearted heroine breaking a few rules, if not a few bones. Hamilton humanizes Eve through her personal ties to the murder and her professional doubts about Felice; she enriches the novel's atmosphere with music (the title comes from a song playing ominously in Catarina's apartment) and coastal landscapes. Hamilton's social insights about race and success may not always feel profound, but her compassion for her characters and knowledge of their worlds make her novel compelling reading.
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In the fourth Eve Diamond novel (Last Lullaby
, 2004), the resourceful L.A. Times
reporter's plans for an evening at the theater go awry before the curtain rises. The leading lady, the playwright's muse, is missing, and Eve's boyfriend, Silvio, the playwright's best friend, is asked to search for her. Eve tags along to get the story and later wishes she hadn't. The drama queen, who turns up at the bottom of a cliff, has left a trail of brokenhearted suspects that includes Silvio. While some of the elements here seem stock--a reformed gangbanger turned artiste, a bewitching diva, close-knit Latinos who call each other "homes"--Hamilton's tale is a nice update on the hard-boiled genre. Certain plot elements have a 1940s feel, yet her sensual, conflicted sleuth lives in a distinctly modern world of cell phones and BMWs. And a story line involving Eve's resentment at the fast-tracking of an African American reporter adds a topical twist while still evoking classic crime-novel themes of class and identity. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved