cover image Pacific Beat

Pacific Beat

T. Jefferson Parker. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (364pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05943-9

Parker's third thriller is a powerful, unforgettable story of murder and corruption told in prose as sparkling and tough as any devotee of the hard-boiled tradition could wish, a tale that fulfills all the promise of his smash debut, Laguna Heat. After a brief and unpleasant stay in a Mexican jail, ex-cop Jim Weir returns to Newport Beach, Calif., for a joyful reunion with his mother and his sister, Ann, both activists in a campaign to stop rapacious developers from destroying their city. Joy turns quickly to sorrow when Ann, pregnant at last after she and her husband, Jim's former police partner and best friend, Ray Cruz, have tried for years to have a child, is found raped and brutally stabbed hours after Jim's arrival. Evidence quickly mounts to indicate that Ann was having an affair and may have been murdered by a member of the police force. Weir begins a covert investigation of the department at the behest of its chief, who, backed by the developers and their allies, is also running for mayor. His opponent is Becky Flynn, Jim's ex-lover and Ann's best friend. Further complications arise with the discovery that a convicted sex criminal had been spying on Ann. In the best tradition of Chandler and Macdonald, that young man turns out to be the link to terrible secrets from the past which have led to the present tragedy. 75,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild selection. (June)