In Prisoner of Memory, intrepid Los Angeles Times news reporter Eve Diamond is back in a fast-paced and enthralling crime thriller. The novel opens with Eve on assignment in Griffith Park with a Fish and Wildlife officer when she stumbles across the decaying body of a teenager who has been brutally shot in the head.
The boy is identified as Dennis Lukin, son of Russian émigré parents. Eve immediately notices something strange about the crime scene - while it certainly looks like a professional hit, the boy is dressed in Western clothes but is strangely sporting a Soviet
Upon arriving at the Lukin's to interview them, Eve discovers that Sasha Lukin, Dennis's father, is living a life shrouded in secrecy, mystery and paranoia. When Eve mentions Dennis's watch, Sasha grows visibly alarmed. Eve becomes convinced that it signifies much more than Dennis's adolescent rebellion.
Someone is sending Sasha threatening blackmail letters, signing them "the prisoner of memory," and it
is absolutely terrifying this cultured and seemingly harmless old man. Eve, however, determines pretty quickly that this family knows more than they're letting on, especially when she spies Dennis' paranoid older brother, Nicolai, looking over a book on the history of the Cold War.
Working with her dashing colleague Josh Brandywine, Eve plows through clues and leads with suspects
who continue to rage on in parallel universes, intent to settle old scores and avenge their honor, even "feathering their nests with a little blackmail."
Meanwhile, illegal Russian immigrant Mischa Tsipin lands on Eve's doorstep right after Denny Lukin is shot, claiming the Russian Mafia are after him and that he
is Eve's long lost cousin. The trail also leads to the very serious possibility that either the Lukin kids or their
father is involved with the mafia, or even the ex-KGB.
In a multifaceted web of clues stretching back twenty years and even encapsulating Eve's own family history, the whole plot becomes a nefarious free-for-all with Eve riding on the coattails of the news flow, jockeying to stay front and center as she encounters the ghosts of the old Soviet regime.
Hamilton's obvious love of Los Angeles adds to the legitimacy of the story. She excels in showing her adored city on the edge with the flood of immigration, languages, cultures, civilizations, and even crime, great wealth living alongside obvious poverty, the thriving drug and criminal culture, and the place to start again for refugees.
The story is peppered with compelling protagonists, all jockeying for position, all with their own agendas, determined to hide their secrets,
but who are in the end unable to escape their violent pasts.
Once again, Denise Hamilton presents the lovely Eve Diamond as a truly gifted reporter, plucky and courageous.
Her ruthless ambition and readiness to always root out the bad guys make her an endearing and totally likeable character.