by Cynthia Chow
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of this book, along with a link to purchase it.
Ellie Rush recently finished her first year of probation with the Los Angeles Police Department, but her latest assignment on the Bicycle Coordination Unit has her serving as a crossing guard in front of Grand Avenue’s Walt Disney Concert Hall. On the way to the restroom, Ellie exchanges a few friendly words with the hall’s charming gardener, Eduardo Fuentes. Just a few moments later, she discovers that he’s been pushed down the stairs and critically injured. The culprit is still on the scene, loudly declaring that it was an act of self-defense. Fang Xu, the father of a world-famous visiting Chinese violist, is claiming that Fuentes was attempting to steal his son’s cello, a Stradivarius worth five million dollars.
As the LAPD and city administration quickly move to suppress any hint of racial turmoil, Ellie feels pulled between her professional duty and her sympathy for the Fuentes family. Just as challenging is that her BFF Nay Pram has become a reporter for Pan Pacific West: Nay is relentlessly investigating the Xus and what she believes to be the truth. Ellie receives no comfort from Detective Cortez Williams, as their relationship ended before it started, and he is fully occupied with a string of robberies committed by the Old Lady Bandit.
I absolutely adore this series, and the second entry continues with strong writing and fully-developed characters. Ellie’s struggles as a rookie officer are as essential to the novel as the mystery of what occurred in the concert hall. Twenty-three year-old Ellie is feeling more and more disconnected from her friends from college, who as fifth-year students are unable to comprehend her devotion to law enforcement. Ellie is embracing the initially embarrassing assignment as a bicycle cop—but as a young female patrol officer, she never feels entirely welcomed into the LAPD family.
Half-Japanese and half-Caucasian, Ellie often feels insecure and inadequate in both her professional and her personal life. She is further disconcerted by the discovery of a side to her family that makes Mother’s Day awkward. The author has a strong affection for the city of Los Angeles, and her descriptions of lesser-known areas are as elaborate as they are delightful. Equally fascinating are the details of how the LAPD is embracing social media and using it to mold and manipulate the image of law enforcement.
This novel benefits from taking the perspective of a promising and yet unjaded rookie officer. Ellie still believes that she can make a difference and improve her community, and her distress as she feels at outgrowing her friends is moving and realistic. Fans of Hirahara’s award-winning Mas Arai series will delight in his brief cameo, but it is Ellie and the challenges she faces as a new police officer that will have readers yearning for more.
To enter to win a copy of Grave on Grand Avenue, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Grand,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 2, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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