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California Girl    by T. Jefferson Parker order for
California Girl
by T. Jefferson Parker
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

California Girl is T. Jefferson Parker's twelfth book. If you're a fan of his, you already know it's a good book. If you haven't read his work before, you're in for a treat.

The three Becker brothers (Andy, a crime reporter working to be the best; David, a minister of God looking for a miracle; Nick, a police detective on his first homicide case) are devastated when a young woman they all knew is raped, murdered and decapitated. The investigation leads them to suspect people they've known their entire lives. At the same time, their parents, Max and Marie, are reeling from the death of their fourth son Clay in Vietnam.

The year is 1968. Parker has resurrected the era of the war, protesters, hippies, sit-ins and folk music. His characters knew Richard Nixon and Charles Manson. The back-story relives Kennedy's assassination as well as the murder victim's life. Abused by her brothers and father, Janelle Vonn had a lousy childhood. At fourteen, she left home. Sadly her independence led to her death.

The story moves quickly, with enough suspense to destroy all your fingernails. The writing is tight with a plot that flows from one scene to the next with never a falter. The dénouement wasn't a total surprise. I had decided who had done the dastardly deed - and I was right. This surprised me, as I'm really not that perceptive. A few revelations about the brothers fit right in with the story. Made them really human - just like all of us.

This is a good book. Just make sure to block out some time to read it. Once you start, you won't want to put it down. California Girl is a first rate page-turner.

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