'Bone Canyon'

'Bone Canyon' (Thomas & Mercer) by Lee Goldberg.

Scattered bones discovered in the aftermath of a California wildfire spark an investigation by top cop Eve Ronin in Lee Goldberg's new novel, but what really gets too hot for “the youngest homicide detective in the history of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department” are the departmental politics that lead her to a secret fraternity of fellow officers who may be involved in covering up murder.

“Bone Canyon” (Thomas & Mercer), the sophomore story in Goldberg’s developing Eve Ronin series, is just as fast-paced and politically charged as 2020’s “Lost Hills.” Here, Ronin soon identifies the remains in the fire as those from a young woman who went missing six years earlier after reporting being sexually abused by a group of men on a local beach. When an identifying tattoo points to a police conspiracy, Ronin is singled out by both fellow deputies and superiors for threatening the unspoken rule of silence that protects the brotherhood of officers.

Threatened also is Ronin’s integrity as she battles to follow her own True North following a threat on her life: “She wasn’t a traitor to the badge, she thought. The deputies who did this were. They forgot that their sworn duty was to protect the public, not the rapists and murderers within their own ranks. If the deputies thought this warning would scare her off, or shut her down, they didn’t understand her at all. It had the opposite effect. It motivated her. It reinforced that what she was doing wasn’t just the right thing, it was her responsibility.”

It’s that sense of responsibility that leads Ronin to continually strive for justice even as she begins, under the mentorship of retiring partner Duncan Pavone, to understand that such striving can’t be a solo act.

“You can’t be a loner on this job. You have to rely on others. It’s not you against the world. That means making friends and establishing trust,” Pavone tells her.

But trust comes hard to Ronin, whose broken childhood, fraught parental relationships and unceasing Hollywood offers to exploit her celebrity from the Lost Hills case teach her that she is indeed very much alone.

Battling that inner dictum leads Ronin to question her work, her relationships and her life: “One of the reasons Eve feared a TV series about herself was that she’d be held to a fictional standard in her real life. But wasn’t that happening to her now anyway?”

The answer to that question is two-fold, but central to solving the murder discovered in L.A.’s Bone Canyon. Goldberg, a gifted storyteller with cinematic timing, keeps the question aloft until the final pages, simultaneously resolving the mystery and setting up a third installment in a series that readers will eagerly await.

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