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by Denise Hamilton
Scribner, April 2006
384 pages
ISBN: 0743261941

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A mountain lion has been seen in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Eve Diamond, newly promoted to the Metro side of the Los Angeles Times, is accompanying a park ranger on his search for the puma, which normally eats deer. They find the body of a 17-year-old boy who has been shot. The young man is wearing a Soviet army watch. He is Dennis Lukin, the son of Irina and Sasha Lukin, Russian emigres who now live in Studio City.

It's December in LA and it begins to rain. Los Angeles doesn't have weather. It has biblical events -- fire, flood, earthquake -- and winter is the rainy season in this desert community. Eve gets home to find a young man, who claims to be her cousin from Moscow, waiting on her steps. Eve is suspicious, but finally, at least partially, accepts him. She has no family. Her parents and brother are dead, and all she knows about her family is that some of them went to Paris about the time of the revolution, and then some of those came to the United States.

Joe Trabuco, the assistant City editor, assigns police reporter Josh Brandywine to work with Eve on the story of the dead teenager. Dennis' father, Sasha, is a scientist who managed to escape from the USSR and hates the Soviets. He claims his son must have bought the watch on Ebay. Eve has doubts. She knows that Sasha is not telling the truth but why. And is Mischa Tsipin really her cousin?

I read the first Eve Diamond book and disliked it. I haven't tried any since, but PRISONER OF MEMORY, the fifth book in the series, makes me want to go back and read the intervening books. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I can appreciate the sense of the city that Hamilton portrays, and can empathize with her attempts to find family members. There's also a good mystery involved.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, February 2006

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