California Girl(Unabr.) Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Set on Parker's usual turf, this Orange County, Calif., saga is a family drama carefully wrapped around a mystery involving a murdered beauty queen. Back in 1954, the Becker brothers, David, Nick, Clay and Andy, win a fight with the wrong-side-of-the-tracks Vonn brothers at the Sunblesst orange packinghouse. After the rumble, the Vonns' little sisters, Lynette and Janelle, show up to throw rocks. Thus begins a lifelong association between three of the brothers and the two girls. In 1968, Janelle is back at the packinghouse, only now she's lying dead on the floor, her decapitated head several feet from her torso. Nick is with the county sheriff's department working his first case as lead detective. Brother Clay has been killed in Vietnam, Andy is a reporter on a local newspaper and David is a minister. Framing the occasionally glacial narrative with Nick's present-day reworking of the case, Parker (Cold Pursuit, etc.) introduces a wide variety of quirky period characters, from stoned-out hippies to Dick Nixon and his conservative cronies, one of whom might be Janelle's killer. Readers should think mainstream novel rather than thriller and prepare to wait patiently for the rewards offered by this intricately plotted tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Since the Edgar-winning Laguna Beach in 1985, Parker has been known for his literate mysteries set in Southern California. This latest involves a very cold case from the 1960s. The story is framed by the elegiac meditations of Nick Becker, former L.A. cop, who deeply regrets lost youth and opportunities, but the bulk of the story suggests that Nick hasn't missed all that much. The core experience of his youth, his first case as an L.A. sheriff's officer, involved standing over the body of a neighbor girl, staring at it with his reporter brother, Andy. The girl, whom they knew had been molested and drugged by her brothers and later became a local beauty queen and Playboy cover girl, was found brutally murdered on the floor of a packinghouse. Before readers get to this core incident, which took place in 1968, the novel lurches through chapters depicting the Becker family in 1954, 1960, and 1963. It's obvious Parker wants to recapture the '60s, but he does so in an extremely heavy-handed, lugubrious fashion, hitting readers over the head with ways in which the times touched the family. The mystery itself moves extremely slowly, relying for its partial solution on an extremely corny deus ex machina device. Parker devotees will stick with him, but this one won't attract new fans. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Also recommended: all books by Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Victoria Taylor Murray, and Betty Dravis, especially 1106 GRAND BOULEVARD
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I have to start by saying I am a fan of Parker's writing and have always been impressed by his work. Having said that, I think California Girl is an exciting step in a new direction. Less of a novel about catching the killer and more about the effects the murder has on the people around her. Like Lehane with Mystic River and Rozan with Absent Friends, Parker is stepping to the next level with a novel that is every bit a piece of literature as it is a crime novel.
It is work like this that helps remove any posible stigma that comes with the term "genre novel"
In April 2005, California Girl was awarded the Edgar award for best Novel of 2004, by the Mystery Writers of America.
It is Parker's second Best Novel Edgar, as Silent Joe also won.
undergoing tremendous social change, the youth of California were
not unaffected. The story is about the Becker brothers, Nick (now a
homicide detective), David (a Priest) and Andy (a journalist). The
three boys are mentally transported back to relive their childhood
when Nick is assigned, as his first case, the investigation of the
beheading murder of Janelle Vonn, the younger sister of the violent
Vonn brothers - arch-enemies from the boy's childhood. Andy
recognises that the story of the investigation could lead to his
break into big-time journalism so follows the case closely. Janelle
was abused by her brothers and Nick and Andy had helped her escape
to start a new life, her escape caused a violent encounter between
the two sets of brothers. David, Nick and Andy all investigate the
case from different angles, occasionally co-operating and sharing
their information. As secrets are revealed - careers, lives and
loves are threatened. Are the brothers able to solve the crime
before they become victims of it?
Parker is a very descriptive author, and has used powerful imagery
to portray an investigation that is totally guesswork and hunch
following, does not include computers and modern day forensic
techniques. The era is well researched and brought back memories
of events and fashions of the day. Parker even had well known `real'
characters flitting in and out of the story, such as Richard Nixon
was a friend of the Becker brother's parents. This is my first book
by this author and I found his portrayal of the different characters
to be meticulous, I felt that I knew them all personally by the end
of the book. The plot was good, the characterisation was good and
the writing was excellent.
Stylish and engaging, it transports you back to 1968 in Orange County (and up to present day)...again mixing real life characters (Dick Nixon, Tim Leary, Charles Manson) with a fictional cast of vividly sketched characters.
The three Becker brothers (a cop, a crime reporter and a minister) have an intense commitment to finding the truth about a decapitated friend from their teenage years.
Their search for the facts leads to compromise, concessions and exposure of the brothers' secrets.
It is a subtle, sophisticated, cerebral novel with justice the overruling topic...no matter how long it may take.
A well-crafted look back at a period of time that fashioned a generation told in a most intriguing manner.
As good as any book I have read this year.
CALIFORNIA GIRL is no exception to this rule. It is a story that spans four decades, from 1960 to the present. The primary focus of the novel, however, is 1968. The setting is southern California, the site of a cultural and political maelstrom that continues to have ramifications to this day. The Becker brothers have taken different vocational paths: one is a homicide detective, one a reporter, and one a minister. Yet their paths are going to cross, and dramatically so, when the mutilated body of Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned warehouse. Vonn was a woman who seemed doomed to a bad end almost from the day she was born, and the crowd that she ran with --- druggies, surfers and musicians --- fed into her seeming penchant for self-destruction. Each of the Becker brothers had their own unique tie, past or present, to Vonn, and thus each tries in his own separate way to find her murderer and bring him to justice.
Parker captures the southern California era of the late 1960s perfectly, and anyone who lived through it will feel a number of familiar tugs while reading CALIFORNIA GIRL. Parker gets those all-important secondary details down nicely --- I had forgotten all about Sugar Rice Crinkles, and would love a bowlful right about now --- making the evocation of the era all the more real. More importantly, however, this is a meticulously crafted mystery, a masterfully told tale of love and passion gone wrong and ultimately made right.
CALIFORNIA GIRL is a haunting work, one that provides a satisfying ending in lieu of a happy one. As with the majority of Parker's novels, there will not be a sequel here, but one is not necessary. It stands alone, and well.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub