cover image Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean

Janet Dawson. Ballantine Books, $20 (326pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90766-5

A week's vacation with her family in Monterey becomes a busman's holiday for Oakland PI Jeri Howard, last seen in Take a Number, in her taut, absorbing fourth adventure. First, she agrees to help a biologist cousin find out who is mutilating pelicans in the area. Then another cousin becomes a murder suspect when the body of his girlfriend washes up near the coast. Jeri also offers to help her mother, owner of Cafe Marie, discover who is behind recent incidents that are driving business away from the restaurant. Working on all three cases, Jeri learns that nearly everyone, from the dead girl's parents to her mother's new lover, has something to hide. Adrift in a swirl of leads and clues, she calls on her retired mentor, Errol Seville, with whose help she's finally able to link the disparate cases and solve the crimes. Drawing force from Monterey Bay's Cannery Row past and its up-to-the-minute present, Dawson's suspenseful story builds momentum like an ocean wave. Readers are advised to dive right in. (Nov.)