cover image Bye-Bye, Black Sheep

Bye-Bye, Black Sheep

Ayelet Waldman, . . Berkley Prime Crime, $22.95 (259pp) ISBN 978-0-425-21018-5

Juliet Applebaum, a PI and mother of three. continues her balancing act in Waldman's smart seventh Mommy-Track mystery (after 2005's The Cradle Robbers ). When Heavenly, an African-American transvestite, shows up in tears at the office Juliet shares with her partner, ex-cop Al Hockey, the sassy, bighearted former public defender commits to tracking down the murderer of Heavenly's sister, Violetta, a drug addict and prostitute whose death has been ignored by the LAPD. The case takes Juliet from the privileged comfort of her home in the Hollywood Hills to the projects of South Central, where she interviews Violetta's family and streetwalker colleagues, all of whom are depicted with compassion. Juliet works methodically through her list of suspects—"Tricks, Boyfriends, Coworkers, Family"—until arriving at the sad answer to Violetta's demise. Whether scrambling for child care or bribing pimps, Juliet is resourceful, and her humor shines through in this brisk, thoroughly readable tale. (Aug.)