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Sugar Skull: An Eve Diamond Novel (Eve…

Sugar Skull: An Eve Diamond Novel (Eve Diamond Novels)

by Denise Hamilton

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For my wee ones, Adrian and Alexander
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I was sitting at the city desk, halfway through my first cup of cafeteria coffee, when I saw him.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743482212, Mass Market Paperback)

You can spot Denise Hamilton's journalistic background in the inquisitive, meticulous way she plumbs the economic and ethnic strata of Los Angeles, the setting of her second Eve Diamond mystery, Sugar Skull. As in her previous book, The Jasmine Trade, which dealt with Asian gangsters and undersupervised teens susceptible to criminal influence, Sugar Skull contrasts seemingly disparate, yet intersecting social realms as it illuminates a metropolis in transition.

"All over town, people were dying violently," observes L.A. Times reporter Diamond at this tale's start. In other words, it's a typical weekend in California's largest city, with most of the deceased barely earning a mention in print. But Isabel Chevalier is different. A 15-year-old prep-school student, she's taken to slumming with runaway street kids, so when she disappears suddenly, her worried father seeks Diamond's help. Too late: Isabel is found murdered in an abandoned building. Sniffing a good story, Diamond tracks down the homeless youths who knew Isabel best, including the feral but oddly magnetic Finch "Mad Dog" Marino and an abused girl called Scout, who revs up the reporter's maternal instincts. At the same time, Diamond has another scoop on the hook, involving the suspicious demise of a mayoral candidate's "super-socialite" wife, who--in hypocritical disregard of her hubby's "family values" platform--has been cavorting with another man. Hamilton's smoothly paced yarn sends Eve from a riverside transvestite camp to Latino nightclubs to the hyper-competitive arena of her newsroom, yet leaves her time (and breath) enough to tryst with a somber Hispanic music promoter amid L.A.'s Day of the Dead festivities. Although readers may cringe at this novel's trite portrayals of spin-mad politicians, Diamond's rough-cut charm and perspicacity, plus Hamilton's thoughtful focus on race and homelessness, make Sugar Skull a sweet read. --J. Kingston Pierce

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:32 -0400)

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Reporting on a series of murders in the Los Angeles area, crime reporter Eve Diamond is assigned to cover the murder of the mayor's wife, a case that is complicated by Eve's romance with a brooding music industry titan.

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