Introduction to the novel at the author's web site:
Everything was set. Marina Lu had even ordered designer dresses for the eight bridesmaids who, in several months' time, would have preceded her down the aisle at her painstakingly planned, storybook wedding. But Marina lies dead, alone in her shiny status car, a two-carat diamond engagement ring refracting nothing but another abruptly shattered Los Angeles dream. Was her death merely a carjacking gone bad? Or is there more to the story?
Marina is Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond's chilling introduction to "parachute kids," the rich Asian teens who live alone in California while their parents run businesses in Hong Kong. Delving into the mysteries surrounding Marina's life and death, Eve stumbles upon a world of unmoored youth and an even more tragic subculture where young immigrants live in virtual slavery.I initially had some problems with this book. The first half was too slow. I consider the themes very interesting, yet the story was not grabbing my interest. In addition, I don't usually enjoy mysteries featuring amateur sleuths, and journalists fit into that sub-genre in my opinion. I haven't read a lot of series with journalists as heroines or heroes, so I was trying to broaden my horizons.
Yet, when I hit the midpoint of the book, the story picked up and I got more comfortable with the characters. I liked the picture of Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. Hamilton does an excellent job of depicting the cultural diversity of the area and how it affects life in Southern California. Especially in a big city like L.A.
I read one review that liked the story over the development of character; another reviewer stressed that the characters were good but the plot was lacking. So I guess it depends on who is reading the book. I felt that both improved toward the end of the book and that it was a fine effort for a debut novel. There are four other books featuring Eve Diamond. I will be continuing the series to see where it takes her.
This novel also get extra points for being a mystery novel written by a woman with a strong female protagonist. Denise Hamilton is clearly drawing on her own experiences as a journalist for the LA Times; see this essay at her web site.
This post by Maxine at Petrona gives a good overview of Denise Hamilton's books and suggests three other authors with series that feature journalists.
Publisher: Scribner, 2001
Length: 279 pages
Series: Eve Diamond #1
Setting: Southern California
Source: I purchased my copy.