In the first book of the acclaimed Henry Rios series, a lawyer doggedly pursues a murder investigation into the lions' den of San Francisco's moneyed elite
A burnt-out public defender battling alcoholism, Henry Rios has reached a crossroads in his life. While interviewing his former lover Hugh Paris in jail, Rios goes through the motions, but notices that Paris is far more polished and well off than the usual suspects arrested for drug possession. Paris is mysteriously bailed out - but a few weeks later, he turns up on Rios's doorstep. Skittish and paranoid, he admits to using heroin and says he's afraid that his wealthy grandfather wants to murder him.
Rios tries to help Paris get clean, but when Paris is found dead of an apparent heroin overdose, Rios is the only one who considers foul play. Determined to find Paris' killer, Rios knocks on San Francisco's most gilded doors, where he discovers a family tainted by jealousy, greed, and hate. They've been warped by a fortune someone's willing to kill - and kill again - to possess.
At once an atmospheric noir mystery and a scathing indictment of a legal system caught in the maws of escalating corruption, The Little Death chronicles one man's struggle to achieve true justice for all.
The Little Death is the first book in the Henry Rios mystery series, which also includes Goldenboy and Howtown.
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Excellent, elegantly written, darkish mystery
Dynamic Descriptions & Wicked Characterizations
St. John breathed life into Nava's characters. He gave each one a distinctive voice that rang true from Rios bff perennial bachelor, loud-mouthed and slightly homophobic Aaron Gold to soft-spoken, paranoid, drug-addicted upper-upper-class Hugh Paris to the cigarette rasp of the Public Defender's supervising attorney, Frances Kelley and on and on. I just don't think I could have imagined it quite as vividly. I can still taste the bitterness of Hugh's mother when she spoke to Rios of her marriage.
I listened to the book as I drove from Portland, ME to Gettysburg, PA or vice versa. The trips are so often it's hard to tell anymore. ;) What's important is that I hardly noticed the hours as they slipped by. I laughed at some of the ridiculous situations Rios got himself into and felt his sadness at the loss of Hugh Paris, despite the shortness of their time together. Perhaps because it was so short and had never had any real chance? I felt anxious at every twist and turn and every time I thought it was over, I was just as surprised as he was to find it wasn't!
Though I thought the story itself had somewhat of a slow beginning, once it picked up, the pacing was excellent. The characters were realistic for the 80's. They aren't beautiful, plastic people. They aren't stereo-types. The descriptions of the setting were sometimes so gorgeous, I hit rewind to listen to them again.
- J. Hardesty