Poor 19-year old Jace Damon steps into a case of criminal intrigue unknowingly, simply doing his job as a messenger on a bike picking up a package after normal hours. His "one last run" of the night brings him to the office of Lenny Lowell, a scuzzy lawyer defending low-end criminals. It's no coincidence that his TV is turned to L.A.'s latest "crime of the century" in which famous actor Rob Cole is accused of killing his wife.
But when Jace's the delivery address turns out to be a vacant lot and when a waiting car spotlights him in its high beams, his better instinct tells him to make tracks. The ensuing run for his life takes him through one obstacle course after another, losing his bike and nearly taking a bullet.
He gets away with his life this time... only to find out later that Lowell's been murdered and his office ransacked. The killer is after something and it might well be the package Jace has strapped around his waist.
Detective Kev Parker has a trainee sidekick with a very severe attitude that seems very undetective-like. She's beautiful Renee Ruiz, and Parker ultimately detects that she's got an agenda. But his bigger problem is working his way back up the force's ladder of respect after the disgrace and oblivion his last case brought him. His current standing makes it difficult to go against the grain by not so quickly accepting everyone else's conclusion that the messenger is the killer.
This is also a story about an older brother's devotion to the well being of his younger brother; a Chinese woman's cultural flexibility in becoming their protector; a blackmail scam that backfires; a sociopathic killer; and L.A.'s famous, powerful and criminally unscrupulous greed.
Bantam, July 2004, 26.00, 420 pp.
Nineteen years old Jace Damon has learned to keep a low profile for fear that children's protective services would take his eight-year-old brother Tyler away from him. He works as a bicycle messenger in Los Angeles, being paid off the books and living in Chinatown where the community closes ranks around them.
One rainy night, Jace picks up a package from slimy lawyer Lenny Lowell. When he reaches the address of the place he is supposed to leave the package at, he finds an empty lot. Someone tries to grab the package and Jace knows he has to get away before the thug grabs the parcel and kills him. When he returns to Lenny, he sees the cops there and learns that his client was murdered. When he opens the package, he sees negatives. Jace figures that Lenny was blackmailing someone. Not wanting to bring trouble to his brother or Madame Chan who has unofficially adopted them, he leaves but homicide detective Ken Parker and robbery-homicide detective Brandon Kyle is looking for him as well as the man who wants to kill him for what he knows.
KILL THE MESSENGER is a fascinating police procedural that readers will enjoy immensely because the quirky characters make this book very special. Jace is more mature than people twice his age are; his brother is a genius; and the lead police officer on the case Detective Parker is a maverick who does not always follow directions but manages to get the job done. Tami Hoag is one author the audience one can count on for getting the job done too as she writes juicy, entertaining and original novels.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner