CriminOlly thinks: With a credible mystery at it’s heart, this is light and a bit throwaway, but compelling throughout. 3/5
Title: Lost Hills | Author: Lee Goldberg | Series: Eve Ronin #1 | Publisher: Thomas & Mercer | Pages: 237 | ISBN: 9781542093804 | Publication date: 1st January 2020 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: No
‘Lost Hills’ is a book by a writer you may not have heard of, but whose work you almost certainly know. Author Lee Goldberg has been writing novels since the 1980s, but it’s his scripts for popular TV shows you’re more likely to have experienced. He’s written for ‘Diagnosis Murder’, ‘Monk’, ‘Baywatch’, ‘Seaquest DSV’ and many other series. His books reflect that background – they’re often set in Los Angeles and are short, punchy, undemanding and very enjoyable. I’ve read half a dozen or so and found them to be wonderful distractions from everyday life, just what popular entertainment should be.
‘Lost Hills’ is no exception. It tells the tale of a young, female cop in LA, Eve Ronin. Eve is thrust into the limelight after a video of her arresting a celebrity who has been beating his girlfriend goes viral. Promoted to detective and partnered up with a ageing male officer who is counting the days until retirement, Eve lands a big case when she stumbles on a house that shows signs of a bloody struggle, but no sign of the family who lived there.
The book that follows is fast-paced, light hearted and lots of fun. Eve is an engaging heroine, determined and smart and constantly fighting the male colleagues who attribute her promotion to quota filling. Whilst the book has the glossy sheen of a TV show, it’s also packed with the kind of investigative detail that gives it a pleasing verisimilitude. There’s forensics, interviews and lots of lots of legwork.
What shines most of all is Goldberg’s ability to construct a compelling mystery and then allow his sleuth to credibly solve it. Eve never makes the kind of leaps of intuition that sometimes derail mystery novels, instead it’s logic and determination that lead her to the solution. The result is a book that’s light and a bit throwaway, but also absorbing and satisfying.
A video of Deputy Eve Ronin’s off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral, turning her into a popular hero at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is plagued by scandal. The sheriff, desperate for more positive press, makes Eve the youngest female homicide detective in the department’s history.
Now Eve, with a lot to learn and resented by her colleagues, has to justify her new badge. Her chance comes when she and her burned-out, soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. The horrific carnage screams multiple murder—but there are no corpses.
Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while battling her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the bereaved family. It’s a deadly ordeal that will either prove her skills…or totally destroy her.
Content Warning: Domestic abuse
Tolerance Warning: All good