cover image Water Signs: A Jeri Howard Mystery

Water Signs: A Jeri Howard Mystery

Janet Dawson. Perseverance (SCB, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-56474-586-6

The gentrification of Oakland, Calif., forms the backdrop of Dawson’s solid 12th Jeri Howard mystery (after 2015’s Cold Trail), in which the PI faces off against real estate developers while looking into the death of security guard Cal Brady, a former colleague of hers whose body is found floating in the Oakland Estuary. Cal’s college student daughter, Madison, doesn’t believe those who claim that her dad was drinking on the job and fell into the water. Madison asks Jeri, who recently saw Cal drinking sparkling water at a memorial service, to investigate. Maybe he was onto something shifty and paid a fatal price for his snooping. Private investigative work requires a lot of pavement pounding and coffee shop meetings, and as Jeri slogs through the slender chain of clues that Cal left behind, she’s more and more convinced he was murdered. Dawson downplays danger to life and limb amid lengthy narrative passages devoted to the sad state of change in this beautiful city and its environs. (Apr.)