Bone Canyon (Eve Ronin #2), by Lee Goldberg

Eight stars

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/review-bone-canyon/

Lee Goldberg is back with the second novel in his Even Ronin series, which pulls the reader into two parallel cases when bones are discovered after a major brush fire ravages the area. Both cases pull at the heartstrings, but for different reasons, leaving the reader to guess what the killers might have been thinking. Quick paced and easily devoured, this is perfect for those who love gritty police procedurals.

Eve Ronin has had quite the rise through the ranks of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Videos of her gritty antics hit social media and she earned quite the reputation for herself, something that others within the LASD have been holding against her. With little interest in capitalising on her fame, Ronin is forced to rebuff those in the industry who see stardom and an easy television career based on her life.

When Ronin and her partner are called out to a recently fire-ravaged area, they discover part of a skull. Some slow and thorough investigating by a forensics anthropologist not only offers up a lead as to who the victim might be, but also reveals much of her skeletal remains, scattered around the property. Ronin begins piecing it all together and identifies the victim as Sabrina Morton, with the help of a surgical implant.

While Ronin chases down some people who may be able to help piece together what Sabrina was doing in the days before she died, she learns that there were some horrible things that befell this young woman. Sabrina and her roommate went to party on the beach and were gang-raped by a bunch of surfers, all sporting a similar tattoo. After Ronin is able to get hold of a sketch of this tat, she learns that it’s a common mark worn by many of the sheriff’s deputies in the area. Could Sabrina have been attacked by off-duty officers and killed to keep her silent?

While working various angles, another set of bones turns up, those of Debbie Crawford, a fifty-something woman who has a long-standing beef with her rich neighbour. Ronin begins to look into this case and sees the feud has been building, such that having her killed would surely have eased the headache that was developing across the fence line. Still, there’s something not entirely kosher with the way things are presented to her, leaving Ronin to open new lines of inquiry.

As Ronin begins accusing deputies of rape and likely murder, she becomes more of a villain than she is already, leading to verbal and physical attacks. Yet, Ronin refuses to back down, sure that she should be seeking justice over covering her own backside. Two killers are out there and they must be brought to justice, even if it costs Ronin her badge, or worse!

Lee Goldberg proves again that he is a master storyteller with this piece. His ability to develop strong plots and use a fast-paced narrative keeps the reader on their toes as things progress. Poignant characters also help keep things enthralling until the final reveal for the attentive reader.

Eve Ronin remains a relatable protanogist, even though she is young and still somewhat naive when it comes to priorities. Her backstory pops up throughout the piece, though it is how she handles it that prove to be an entertaining subplot. Gritty and seeking to make a difference with her badge drives Ronin to do what she feels is right, even when she steps on toes to get there. With a peppering of some personal interactions at key points in the story, Goldberg has crafted a character that will definitely remain highly entertaining for as long as the series continues.

The cast of strong secondary characters keeps the reader wanting to learn more. Each complements Ronin in their own way, though there are some who are able to stand alone and provide entertainment value in how they are portrayed. With some returning faces and a number of one-offs, Goldberg keeps his story moving with all the banter throughout, offering up many suspects for these two murders and forcing the readers to point at those they would accuse.

The premise of the piece is not only strong, but highly engaging. The plot moves along at a quick pace, thanks to a strong narrative and clipped dialogue. Goldberg has a lot of practice in the genre and it shows, keeping the reader wanting more with every turn of the page. Short chapters that propel the story forward keep the reader on the edge of their seat until everything comes together at the end. A highly entertaining story in a genre that is quite full of cops and their hunt for the elusive suspect or killer.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for another strong effort. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for your fans in the near future.

Lost Hills (Eve Ronin #1), by Lee Goldberg

Eight stars

I was eager to get my hands on this latest novel by Lee Goldberg, hoping that it would be as exciting and full of twists as some of his other work. I was not disappointed with this crime thriller that kept me guessing as the story progressed. Eve Ronin had her fifteen minutes of fame when she took down a criminal and someone posted the entire event to YouTube. That notoriety has made her a household name in the Los Angeles environs and catapulted her into the highest ranks of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A new detective in the Homicide Squad, Ronin is still trying to get her feet under her, made more difficult when no one will take her seriously. When Ronin and her partner are called to the home of a woman presumed missing, things take a turn for the worse. There are some signs of a skirmish on the outside of the house, but when Ronin enters, things are horrific, with blood covering many of the walls and floors, and slashes over much of the furniture. This dull day has turned into the search for a woman and her two young children, though the crime scene lends it to being a homicide investigation. While Ronin must work with the crime scene techs, careful not to step on any toes, she is also trying to hunt down a killer. Ronin tries to piece it all together when she is attacked at the crime scene. This only spurs her on to find new suspects that might help her solve this case. Could it be her ex-husband, who lives hours away? Perhaps the boyfriend who has made it clear he cannot stand the children? All the while, she has a bad feeling about this case, which seems to thrust her into the limelight when all she seeks is to find justice for the victims. Lee Goldberg has done it again as he keeps the story sharp and the narrative flowing. Recommended for those who enjoy a great police procedural, as well as the reader who needs a quick-read thriller to fill their reading list.

I have always enjoyed Lee Goldberg novels when I have a chance to read them, as they are both full of information and succinct at the same time. The crimes are realistic and there is just enough realism in the situations that I can almost picture myself with the story. This new series could have some great potential and Eve Ronin is a wonderful protagonist. Trying to step away from the limelight that was thrust upon her, she wants to do her job, but is constantly reminded of those fifteen minutes and one million clicks that her video amassed. Still, she is gritty and determined to find her place within the Los Angeles community, even as her mother nags her to ‘get found’. Her skills are such that she never stops working and looking for that piece of the crime that everyone missed. She is surrounded with many interesting characters, some of whom I hope make a return appearance in any forthcoming novels within the series. The story itself flows well and keeps the reader’s attention. There is still a period of trying to get a feel for the scenario, but the plot kept me wanting to learn more and the narrative flows with ease. Goldberg mixes chapter lengths to lure the reader in and keep their attention, which is effective in trying to make sense of this horrible crime. I’ll be back for more whenever new books are added to this or his other series I have come to enjoy. A perfect book for any reader looking to find a new author that might make a blip on their radar.

Kudos, Mr. Goldberg, for another wonderful piece. I am eager to see what you have in store for fans soon!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons