This is my fourth book for the Reading Awards Challenge and the winner of the 2005 Edgar Award. The plot revolves around the gruesome murder of Janelle Vonn in the late 1960s in Orange County, California. It traces the murder investigation by a rookie detective who happens to know the victim, and the case's portrayal in the newspaper by the detective's reporter brother.
Strengths of California Girl: I really enjoyed this novel. The author did a great job capturing the setting and time. I felt transported to the late 1960s amid the drug and John Birch Society cultures. I also enjoyed the references to actual people and places from that time period. I especially like Nick's encounter with Timothy Leary and Andy's with Charlie Manson. Quite fun! The author also did a good job of creating a believable character in his victim, Janelle. She is seen mostly in flashback and through other people's eyes, but that seemed to give her depth and made her death somewhat tragic. The story was framed with a current day encounter between Nick and Andy which offered the ultimate resolution to the plot.
Weaknesses of California Girl: The ultimate resolution of the murder mystery was not a huge surprise to me. I pretty much had it figured out midway through the book. However, it didn't bother me too much because I was enjoying the story so much.
Overall, I'd highly recommend California Girl. It was a fun read. What did you think?