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Last Lullaby: An Eve Diamond Novel (Eve Diamond Novels) Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 30, 2004
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One of the cardinal draws of Denise Hamilton's series about Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond (The Jasmine Trade, Sugar Skull) has been its at least partial focus on the life and politics inside a big-city newsroom. However, her third novel, Last Lullaby, pretty much abandons that element. Though it's bursting with firepower and duplicity, this tale of lost children, see-no-evil adoptions, and international smuggling sadly blurs the distinctions between Diamond and less sparkling, more conventional private eyes.
While working up a story about the U.S. Customs Service, Diamond is caught in a shootout at the Los Angeles International Airport. By the time lead stops flying, three passengers from an incoming flight out of Beijing are dead and an infant Cambodian girl who'd accompanied them has vanished. Despite her lowly status as a suburban journo, the "flawed and fanciful" young Diamond--who's always had a soft spot for children in trouble--eschews more quotidian assignments in order to concentrate on this rapidly expanding mystery. But solving it could cost her plenty, physically as well as emotionally. It places Diamond in the midst of a tug-of-war between immigration officials (who have taken the little girl into hiding, supposedly for her own protection), profusely armed goons (who'll do almost anything to get her back), and a hero-worshipped immigration attorney with a fondness for robot dogs (who hopes to win political asylum for the toddler). Meanwhile, the reporter must suffer a 10-year-old video-game obsessive with a hate on for the owners of a local cyber café; a former lover who's suddenly stepped back into her life, bringing with him more dangers than delights; and an unexpected pregnancy by Hispanic music promoter Silvio Aguilar. There are so many twists and tensions here, that one can almost hear the credibility stretching as Last Lullaby approaches its fiery culmination.
Hamilton, an ex-Times staffer herself, knows the L.A. scene intimately, and she brings to her fiction a genuine appreciation of it's history, diverse subcultures, and class disparities. Her portrayal of that sun-bleached city as home to illegal immigrants in continual fear of deportation is especially heart-rending. Yet Last Lullaby hits a sour note when it tries to turn Eve Diamond into V.I. Warshawski with a press pass. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Sexy and exciting."
-- Janet Fitch
-- "Chicago Sun-Times"
"So much freshness and sass...COMPARISONS WITH RAYMOND CHANDLER AREN'T TOO FAR OUT OF LINE."
-- "Los Angeles Times Book Review"
-- "The Washington Post" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Last Lullaby begins with Eve gathering information on security at LAX. September 11, 2001 has occurred recently, and the nation's airlines have upped their security. Eve's people-watching when all of a sudden, there's a shootout! Eve is haunted by an Asian toddler, as the girl looked so sick as she was carried by a beautiful Asian woman wearing a raspberry suit. Eve sees Raspberry Suit among the dead. Who will care for the little girl now? Her "father" has gone incognito. What's going to happen to the sickly baby? Who took her after Raspberry Suit was killed? Who is she? Eve is determined to find this out.
Last Lullaby is more focused than Sugar Skull. Hamilton stick to characters and situations that help the story move along. Even Lorenzo, a Hispanic fifth-grader who is "bright as Polaris" becomes relevant. (Of course, bleeding heart Eve wants to help this boy, who obviously just needs some extra love and affection to push him towards acceptance in a magnet school. ::sigh::) Lorenzo, however is also a predicatable character: poor, no father, hard-working single mom, can't get the help he needs in school because mom doesn't speak English, etc.
Silvio, love interest from Sugar Skull, returns to seduce Eve. Eve knows fully well that she is not permitted to see him until his ex-future-sister-in-law's trial is over. But, of course, Eve can't help but be seduced by Silvio. Silvio still has some sketchiness to him. While having a relationship develop as a secondary plot is fine, there was no need to be dragged back to Silvio's family's home for an event. Minus one star for that.
Also, the lover she's been pining for since the beginning of the series, Tim, finally makes an entrance. He's sketchy, too, but why? Does he have something to do with the mysterious toddler?
Minus another star for the end. Blood, bondage, kidnapping, a raging inferno, robberies, heroin, death- it's all in the last few chapters. And it's much, too much. Lorenzo, who dropped off the pages in the middle, suddenly returns! We do learn about the little girl, but by then, everything is moving at crazy warp speed. And it's not good warp speed. Eve is a mere reporter for the LA Times, not law enforcement. Yet, somehow, she continues to think she's a cross between law enforcement and a one-woman charity. And somehow, someone always wants her dead. I'm surprised the Times hasn't fired her for being so over-the-top!
Sure, it's just fiction, but can't we have one story where people don't want to kill Eve?
After two fascinating explorations of L.A.'s ethnic subcultures, this time Hamilton has produced a more conventionally directed mystery that is focused on an intense story about child abductions and the underground market for overseas adoptions.
As with the author's first two novels, Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond pursues the investigation and her own conflicted emotions about motherhood, as well as her concern for a lost child, drawing her deep into a dangerous situation.
Diamond is one of the best characters in a currently ongoing series. She is sympathetic and believable, and generally acts with intelligence and reason, qualities unfortunately rare in the modern mystery. She also has the right mix of street smarts, sass and vulnerability to draw the reader's interest and concern.
Reviewed by David Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times
In an interesting parallel she also discovers she is pregnant by Silvio, her latest amour. She has not seen him much due a court case and so she is feeling lonely and emotionally vulnerable when an old love shows up.
Eve is a complex and interesting character. This latest installment brings more passion and personality into the Eve Diamond series.
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