Lew Archer is a tough but compassionate private eye in California. On the beach one day he encounters a vast oil spill. A beautiful woman is picking up birds and cleaning the oil from them. She is disturbed, angry, and seems lost and in need of help, just Archer's type. Archer is immediately attracted to her. Turns out her family owns the oil company responsible for the spill. She lets Archer take her to his house, then she suddenly leaves. Archer discovers that she took sleeping pills from his medicine cabinet. Then the search is on. Archer must find her before she harms herself.
In the course of his searches, Archer encounters her parents, grandparents, and husband. All are in anguish of one sort or another. The husband truly loves her but feels she is above him. Her family regards the husband as a gold digger. Archer finds out that the woman has been suicidal in the past and seems to be suffering from some guilty knowledge. Then the woman's parents get a ransom note saying their daughter has been kidnapped. Trying to find the beautiful woman, Archer uncovers family secrets that many would rather remain hidden. There is a mysterious couple of men hovering about who seem to have a grudge against the family for past injuries. One of the men is found murdered, and the police and Archer suspect a member of the family. Then a servant of the wealthy family is found dead. Will Archer find the woman before someone silences her forever? Or is she the killer? Will Archer be able to keep himself safe? A fast moving highly readable mystery novel, with a good story line and excellent quick characterizations.
This report prepared by Fenella