In her award-winning Charlotte Justice novels, Paula L. Woods has created a rare blend of mystery, suspense, and an unflinching social critique of urban, multiethnic America. Featuring an African American homicide detective in the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division, this new Charlotte Justice novel is a sizzling story of murder, politics, families, and betrayal in the uneasy melting pot of Los Angeles, where everyone has their own. . . .
Wood redefines L.A. urban noir as an explosive blend of race relations, politics and murder in her third installment (after Stormy Weather) of the award-winning Charlotte Justice series, which follows the career of an African-American LAPD detective after the 1978 gang-related murder of her husband and son. Fast forward to 1993, 11 months after the riots, to an L.A. still struggling with post-Rodney King tensions. Justice, now assigned to Robbery Homicide, is investigating the murder of Vicki Park, a young Korean campaign worker for Mike Santos, a former news anchor who is now a mayoral candidate. On her first case since a suspension for her part in "the mishandling of a confessed murderer," Justice, along with Det. Billie Truesdale, has to work alongside some "female-hating, trash-talking cowboys," but solving the crime unites them in a common purpose. Woods's gift for realistically depicted police work, tight plotting and succinct characterization serves her well, notably with angry, self-righteous African-American patrol supervisor Tony Brackeen and Asian Task Force Det. Young "King" Kang, who introduces Justice to the workings of Koreatown's underside. Justice's visits to her family's "Nut House" for folksy consultations and her rushed moments with boyfriend Aubrey round out this satisfying, fast-paced police procedural. Its only flaw may be that the rush to "justice" is too swift, and that the plot threads-the suspicious suicide of a former Japanese WWII criminal living in L.A.; the enigma of Park-could have been developed further. (July 1) Forecast: In addition to satisfying fans of her previous police procedurals, Justice should build up steam with African-American readers and other ethnic groups. Her take on L.A. noir is smooth and authoritative. 4-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 26, 2005
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Excerpt from Dirty Laundry by Paula L. Woods
Back in seventy-eight, when we were making the arrangements, the funeral director said something I've never forgotten: Only when we face death do we see our lives clearly.
Still numb with the shock of seeing my husband, Keith, and infant daughter, Erica, lying murdered in my driveway, and my only brother, Perris, nearly getting killed in an on-the-job shooting, I had barely been able to ask the funeral director what he meant.
His reply: "The cars, houses, the distractions we surround ourselves with to keep us company on this journey called life fall away in the presence of death. In that moment, if we're lucky, we will see ourselves--and others--naked and unadorned, for who we really are."
Only twenty-five years old, I had clung to my big brother's hand, staring into the abyss of loneliness ahead of me, and asked: "But what if you don't like what you see?"
For that he had no answer.
But his words have stuck with me, have guided me in every death investigation I've conducted since becoming an LAPD homicide detective. His words especially rang true during the case I investigated in March of 1993.
Two uniforms from Wilshire Division, who had already set up a perimeter at the north end of the alley at Eighth and Vermont, were standing in the damp fog when I arrived at 0130 hours.
"I read in a book somewhere that they call an orgasm 'the little death,' " the middle-aged Latino was saying to his female partner. He kneaded his crotch and licked his lips. "But little or big depends on what you're packin', y'know what'm sayin'?"
The female, a brunette a head taller than her partner and maybe twenty years his junior, tried to hide the disgust on her face. "Thirteen Korean merchants killed in the last month, and now this," she said, edging away and shoving her hands deeper into her jacket pockets. "This is about the worst thing that could happen in Koreatown."
I coughed to hide the blush I could feel warming my cheeks. My own little death had been interrupted by the twelve twenty-five call from Lieutenant Stobaugh to roll out with my team to this crime scene in Koreatown. I had been about to leap out of Aubrey Scott's bed and get dressed when my lover stirred beneath me. "What's your hurry?" he'd asked, his arms trying to anchor my hips.