Yellow crime tape has already been stretched across the narrow street by the time I arrive. My colleagues, on bikes and in black and whites, are already there. Curious onlookers loiter before they are told to move on. In the middle of the alley, a couple of detectives are blocking the view of something on the ground, presumably the body.
A Vietnamese girl goes missing and her body is later found in an alley on Bamboo Lane. Rookie bicycle cop Ellie Rush recognizes the girl, Jenny Nguyen, as someone she knew at college and feels compelled to track down Jenny’s killer.
- Ellie Rush is a cool character with a cool job (LAPD bicycle cop), a cool dog (a white Chihuahua mix named Shippo), and a cool family. She drives an old green Buick Skylark called “the Green Mile”. She gives her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend an awesome nickname (Miss Boots). Ellie could coast on the coattails of her Aunt Cheryl, a high-ranking officer at the LAPD, and use the connection to make homicide detective quickly; instead, she dutifully accepts assignments like patrolling the porta-potties during neighborhood parades so she can pay her dues like everyone else.
Hirahara writes in a first-person perspective, giving the narrative a straightforward, slightly clinical tone which fits Ellie’s character well. I loved the characters and the plot, but it took me weeks to finish this mystery. The pacing is sometimes slow and the awkward romance is something the story didn’t really need. But there’s way more here to like than to dislike. Ellie provides a lot of insight into the city’s locales, as well as into the difficulties of being a bicycler in a city of motorists. She’s surround by a realistic cast of diverse characters and the mystery of Jenny’s death is not one that is easily solved. I will say Ellie doesn’t always make the best decisions when she’s torn between the legal boundaries of her job and her personal need to find out what happened to Jenny, but her missteps do eventually lead her in the right direction. I didn’t finish this book in one sitting, or two, or even five. But I did keep picking it up because I wanted to finish it. Eventually. Almost like it was an old friend I bumped into every once in a while: “Hey Ellie! How’s that murder thing going?”. I really, really enjoyed getting to hang out with Ellie and I’m bummed there’s only one more book in this series—Grave On Grand Avenue—in which to do so.