In Richard Barre's The Ghosts of Morning
, a homicide that exploded the glorious sun, surf, and beach-party youth of two teenage surfers in still-golden Southern California reemerges to haunt the lives of the survivors.
Wil Hardesty, Vietnam vet, ex-surfer and ex-husband (introduced in Barre's Shamus-winning The Innocents) is sucked into the intrigues of a wealthy and powerful family, the Van Zants. Denny Van Zant, Wil's mentor and friend in the Southern California surfing fraternity, enlisted in the Vietnam-era Marines to escape allegations of a homicide cover-up and died in the bloody assault on Hue. Now, however, his mother has received an anonymous letter. Denny is alive, and for a large sum of money, he can be found. She needs an investigator. Hardesty, pulled into the investigation by gratitude for past kindnesses, finds himself ensnared and finally endangered by the opposing claims of loyalty, love, and, finally, the truth.
Barre's well-crafted narrative propels a believably human Hardesty into the worlds of news reporting, police investigations, body builders, dingy seaside motels, and a haunted post-Vietnam bivvy for burnouts outside Hilo, Hawaii. Amid escalating violence, each puzzle Hardesty solves raises new questions. He moves inexorably toward a final confrontation in the penthouse of an L.A. office tower, looking down on the glittering lights and dark shadows of his city and his past. --Barbara Schlieper
From Kirkus Reviews
As in both previous outings (The Innocents, 1995; Bearing Secrets,1996), Wil Hardesty, passionate surfer, professional sleuth, plunges into the past to solve a modern-day mystery. This time, though, its his own past to which attention must be paid. Way back when, the teenaged Wil and Van Zant kids were inextricably connected. Start with Denny Van Zant, exciting, courageous, knowing, everything a 17-year-old best friend should be. Its Denny, after all, who teaches Wil to surf. And while Denny is doing that, his kid sister, Trina, is offering instruction of another sort to Wil. These prove to be satisfactory arrangements all around until the day young Carmen Marquez is found murdered, a knife in her chest. Pregnant Carmen. Carmen from the wrong side of the tracks. The Van Zants, of course, are very definitely from the privileged side, and as the murdered girls boyfriend, Denny inevitably heads the suspect list. With the case against him still in its formative stage, however, the Van Zants hustle him off to join the Marines. But you dont outwit Fate that easily. In Vietnam, Denny is killed in action. Or is he? There are those who dont think so. Among them is Dennys mother, who hires Wil to prove her right. And while hes at it, she wants him to clear her son of Carmens long-ago murder. From there on, the plot twists and turns ferociously, though not always persuasively. The ubiquitous drug lord makes a wearisome entrance, for instance, paving the way for an overly familiar Grand Guignol climax. Trying for noir, Barre too readily crosses into melodrama. Writers who do that pay a price: Its hard to take them seriously. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.