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Review: Lee Goldberg scores again with vivid ‘Movieland’

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“Movieland,” by Lee Goldberg (Thomas & Mercer)

Eve Ronin, a young Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy, is passionate about finding justice for crime victims, but her inexperience, ambition and willingness to defy authority have gotten her in a world of trouble.

Her colleagues resent her for landing the job by jumping over more experienced and deserving candidates. Some of them hate her for exposing widespread corruption in the department in a previous novel. Two of them have even tried to kill her.

Meanwhile, the family of an officer who committed suicide after she accused him of rape is suing her for wrongful death. She’s annoyed that a TV network, eager to exploit her notoriety, is developing a show based on her life. And her relationships with the father who abandoned her and the mother who tries to control her are a constant source of tension.

As if that weren’t enough, her partner, Duncan “Donuts” Pavone, just weeks from retirement, is convinced that a would-be serial killer is behind several non-fatal shotgun shootings in Malibu Creek State Park. Park officials and business leaders, fearful that a serial killer investigation would be bad for business, insist that the shootings are random and unrelated. So Pavone’s superiors, caving to the pressure, order him to lay off.

But when a park visitor is shot in the face and killed, Pavone defies them, roping Ronin into an off-the-books investigation.

“Movieland,” Lee Goldberg’s fourth novel featuring Ronin, is every bit as good as the first three. The characters, including victims, suspects, and an assortment of lazy, hardworking, honest and corrupt cops, are quirky and well developed. The depiction of police procedures feels authentic. The writing is vivid and precise. And with startling twists around every corner, the suspenseful tale unfolds at a furious pace.

Soon, more fatal shootings follow. The list of suspects swells to dozens, including environmental activists, a homeless man, and several of fabulously wealthy business men. And Ronin, single-mindedly intent on justice, finds her job, and even her life, in danger.

___

Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

By BRUCE DESILVA
Associated Press

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