By Jeffrey Fleishman
In LAPD Detective Sam Carver’s newest case, a Russian-born ballerina struggles with age, helped by vodka and opiods, until she turns up dead in her downtown studio loft.
It looks like an overdose — accidental or suicidal, to be determined — but to Sam it looks like murder.
Before the coroner can get to her autopsy, the ballerina’s body is stolen from from the morgue. No body means no homicide. No autopsy means no way to tell what killed her.
It’s been a year since serial killer Dylan Cross left Sam tied up in his apartment and vanished into the night.
He’s just back from a two-month leave wandering through Europe hoping to pick up a trace of Dylan. He’s just dropped his suitcase at home before being thrown into investigating Katrina Ivanovna’s death.
Katrina’s across-the-hall neighbor tells Sam about a cellist who played while she danced in her studio — and about a visit from two Russian-speaking men shortly before she died. When Sam finally catches up with the cellist and brings him in for questioning, he’s sprung from custody by an attorney and an elegant older woman. Then the cellist turns up dead, also from an apparent overdose.
Soon a contact of Sam’s in the FBI is involved. She reports that the CIA is interested in Katrina’s death. Katrina was talking to a ghost writer about a tell-all book, but her diaries have gone missing. Sam learns that her mother’s family is well-connected in the Russian power hierarchy. More digging reveals that a fabulously successful producer, once involved with the KGB, may also have connections with Katrina.
Given that author Jeffrey Fleishman is the foreign and national editor of the Los Angeles Times and a veteran foreign correspondent, all this international intrigue is not surprising although it’s often confusing.
As with the first book in the Sam Carver series, MY DETECTIVE
, Fleishman brings L.A. to life in his prose, describing winds “carrying voices and intentions from all directions” or glittering Century City as “a soulless glass dreamland of suits, agents and bistros floating west of downtown and bordering Beverly Hills.”
But what’s disappointing about this book is that it doesn’t carry the Dylan Cross thread of Sam’s story further along. It reads like a series that’s lost its way.
About the Author: Jeffrey Fleishman
Jeffrey Fleishman is foreign and national editor at the Los Angeles Times and a longtime foreign correspondent. In 2014, he returned to the United States to become a senior writer on film, art and culture for the Los Angeles Times.
He has written three other novels: MY DETECTIVE, SHADOW MAN and PROMISED VIRGINS: A NOVEL OF JIHAD.