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North of Montana [Mass Market Paperback]

April Smith
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 29 1995
When [F.B.I. agent] Ana Grey is given a high-profile case involving a Hollywood actress who claims that her doctor has hooked her on illegal drugs, Ana's own puzzling history collides with her investigation and she must face an uncomfortable truth about her family and herself."
A notably literate crime novel about all manner of social dividing lines--race, gender, age, class--in the rude stew of L.A.'s human melting pot."
--New York Newsday
Smith brings an expert sense of pace to this first novel. But it is her engaging style, which blends lyric descriptions with crackling dialogue, that makes NORTH OF MONTANA such a pleasure to read."
--The Wall Street Journal
This baby zips along with all the jolt of a double espresso."
--USA Today
whose blend of gutsiness, humor and vulnerability may bring to mind another California crime specialist, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone."
--The New York Times Book Review

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In a stunningly assured debut, Smith has produced a crime thriller distinguished by an unflagging pace, authoritative use of detail and an appealing heroine. In vigorous, literate prose, Smith delivers characters of depth and dimension who inhabit the wildly diverse worlds of Southern California, each rendered with a cinematic eye. Her protagonist is Ana Grey, an ambitious, brash young FBI agent. With seven years in the L.A. field office and a recent "perfect bust" of a bank robber, Ana is ready to move up. A resentful superior stands in the way, however, and instead of getting transferred, Ana is assigned to a high-profile case involving a megawatt movie star of a certain age who has brought charges against a local doctor for addicting her to drugs. At the same time, Ana receives a phone call asking her to help the two young children of a recent street-shooting victim in Santa Monica--an immigrant from El Salvador who told friends that Ana was her cousin. Ana insists it's a hoax: abandoned as an infant by her father, a migrant worker from Mexico, she was raised by her mother, now deceased, and her beloved grandfather, a retired Santa Monica cop. Then Ana learns that the Salvadoran woman had worked for the physician charged in the drug case and finds herself tangled in events that lace together both personal and professional aspects of her life and trigger a troubling series of forgotten memories of her childhood. Moving through an array of settings--L.A.'s crowded Latino section, El Piojilla; the blue-collar Santa Monica neighborhood of her youth; the modern elegance of the "overbuilt upscale enclave" known as "north of Montana"--Ana grapples with more death, Hollywood politics, personal betrayal and her own seething desires. Wisely leaving some ends untied, Smith resolves the central themes of this seamless narrative in this smashing story. 200,000 first printing; Literary Guild selection; Random House AudioBook.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

YA?Santa Monica, north of Montana Avenue, is "the land of the newly rich," a place where FBI agent Ana Grey definitely feels out of place. It is to these households that she must go when she is assigned to investigate a drug case involving a handsome doctor and a has-been film star. And it is to the working-class household of her own childhood, just a few blocks to the south, that she must go to solve a mystery concerning her family. Both stories intersect when a poor, young Hispanic woman who claimed to be a relative of Ana's long-dead father is brutally murdered. In addition, there is the problem of the dead woman's two young children left in the care of a neighbor who cannot afford to keep them for very long. Two other threads enliven this tale: one centers on Ana's career struggles as a female agent proving herself to her male bosses and the guys in the "bullpen." The other is her coming to terms with a growing romantic attraction to her partner, Mike Donnato. Ana Grey is an interesting addition to the growing ranks of independent-minded fictional female detectives. YAs who enjoy rich characterization and unexpected plot twists will appreciate the complications in her life. At the end of the novel enough threads are left hanging to make a sequel most welcome.?Carolyn E. Gecan, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a thoughful, powerful novel of suspense Sept. 29 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
April Smith has written a riveting, dark story about personal demons that have the power to chase us all the way to success - and maybe without the monsters on our heels we'd never have the courage to find it for its own sake. Ana Grey is a tough, ambitious FBI agent who thinks she knows herself, thinks she knows her best friend, the very married Mike Donnato, and she thinks she's on the fast track to a bigger and better job. It takes an explosive, high-profile arrest to prove she's wrong on all three counts, and her complacency is further shattered by a probationary assignment from her dirtbag boss. She learns a few unwelcome facts on her quest for the truth about life, love, and family. April Smith has written a gripping, suspenseful novel of conflict and retribution. A terrific book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed by abridged audiotape Jan. 9 2001
Format:Audio Cassette
Depending on libraries is cheap but sometimes not always the best way to go. This is probably one of those times, since I generally wouldn't chose an abridged audiobook. In this case, this editors seemed to have sucked the life out of Ana Grey. So many of the other reviewers talk about an intriguing new protagonist. Well, the Ana I heard was boring and a bit whiney. I just didn't like her.
Tape or no tape, the bigger plot is also a bit out there - not the movie star part or the Salvadoran refugees -- just that Ana is related to them. Smith does a good job of portraying life in Los Angeles north of Montana Ave.
So, my advice - read the paper version, if anything. If you really want a sizzling new writer from So. Cal - try Don Winslow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incongruous and thought provoking July 25 2000
By Ann
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My idea of an FBI agent is of a taciturn hero with both feet firmly planted on the ground. April Smith's Ana Grey is not the FBI agent that I imagined she would be or possibly as mature a person as she should be, but she is a compelling character and one I would like to see more of. The various subplots regarding Ana's family history, personal relationships, and the major case she is assigned to keep you going and in the end leave you satisfied and yet ... the tendrils of the story and the characters have a life of their own and go on in your imagination. Not every author can manage this. April Smith does it well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Congratulations to April Smith! A++++++++ March 18 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Okay, take Sue Grafton when she's at her very best, like in "F Is For Fugitive." Then take Joseph Wambaugh when he was really cooking, like in "The Black Marble." Then, stir them together and turn up the heat by a factor of three. A perfect combination! The literati liked this book, so I was afraid to buy it, thinking it would like P. D. James or one of those other major bores. Instead, I read the reviews and learned it was great, so I checked it out. WOW! Monster book! Great insight, passion, smart....wonderful!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Really taps into California, then and now Jan. 14 1997
By A Customer
Very disappointed to see no one else had reviewed this. The summary would make it sound like a typical L.A./female cop/whodunit/hipper than thou effort, but it's not. Unlike so many mystery writers, who drop into Southern California as if they owned the place, April Smith felt to me like she really knew the Southern California I remember and still live in. Enough yammering--good plot, well-developed characters, nicely paced. Oh yeah, she even knew that if you were a kid in the '60s you went nowhere without a St. Christopher's Medal around your neck
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