cover image Life Blood

Life Blood

Penny Rudolph, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (316pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-346-3

Likable Rachel Chavez, a recovering alcoholic who lives above the parking garage she owns in downtown L.A., displays curiosity, grit and stamina in Rudolph’s less than successful sequel to Thicker Than Blood (2005). After Rachel discovers two young Mexican children locked in a van in her garage, the action jerks from one episode to another, connected only by fragile threads. Rachel rushes the children to nearby Jefferson Hospital, where she’s told that one is dead but the other, severely dehydrated, will be admitted. When Rachel returns the next day, the hospital has no record of either child’s existence. Massive old Jefferson turns out to have almost as many secrets as it does corridors, and Rachel’s attempts to find the surviving child stir up a hornet’s nest. Rachel’s allies—blunt, caring Goldie, who runs a nighttime cleaning crew, and homeless fortuneteller Irene—are solidly drawn characters always ready with advice and more substantive assistance, but Rudolph’s unconvincing plot doesn’t give any of them room to shine. (Sept.)