A video of Deputy Eve Ronin’s off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral, turning her into a popular hero at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is plagued by scandal. The sheriff, desperate for more positive press, makes Eve the youngest female homicide detective in the department’s history.
Now Eve, with a lot to learn and resented by her colleagues, has to justify her new badge. Her chance comes when she and her burned-out, soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. The horrific carnage screams multiple murder—but there are no corpses.
Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while battling her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the bereaved family. It’s a deadly ordeal that will either prove her skills…or totally destroy her.
LOST HILLS by Lee Goldberg, my first and not to be last read by this author, is a no-frills, barebones, fast-paced, white knuckle-ride. A short novella at just 224 pages long, we are furnished with a tight, tense story with a brisk delivery. All of which makes for a quick and totally absorbing read.
My only gripe with this kind of novella length work is that the characters or story usually suffer from lack of substance and detail but here, in Lost Hills, Goldberg still manages to give us plenty to chew on by way of plot, detail, and depth of character without too much effort. And while we don’t get the scope of backstory for any of the characters that isn’t necessarily a bad thing here. Because we are caught up in Eve’s desperate race to piece together the puzzle.
I really enjoyed the way the author set Eve up for the fall but, who, in the end, pulled through due to sheer tenacity, a few good breaks, and the perseverance to not give in, or give up. Aided by her soon to retire partner, and slowly building respect from those who started out resenting her, we know that Eve is willing to go toe to toe with the testosterone-fuelled Sheriff’s Office, and show them that she too has what it takes.
I particularly enjoyed the brittle banter between Eve and her bit-part mother, a would be actress forever consigned to playing a walk-on character who, in turn, has aspirations for her daughter when she’s promoted to detective in the Sheriff’s office. The snide remarks, and the back and forth are a break from the dark overtone of a triple homicide involving children.
At times brutal, but without being in your face, Goldberg throws the reader straight into the deep end along with Eve right from the get go, and doesn’t let up till the nail-biting finish. Lost Hills is an excellent start to what looks like being an on-going series of short novellas involving Eve Ronin in the LASD, and I for one am looking forward to reading the next instalment.
Eve Ronin #1
Thomas & Mercer, 2020
Novella, 224 pages