Book: California Girl

Cover image

California Girl: A Novel

Author: T. Jefferson Parker
Publisher: William Morrow

California in the 1960s, and the winds of change are raging. Orange groves uprooted for tract houses, people flooding into Orange County, strange new ideas in the air about war, music, sex, and drugs, and new influences, ranging from Richard Nixon to Timothy Leary.

For the Becker brothers, however, the past is always present—and it comes crashing back full force when the body of the lovely and mysterious Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned orange-packing plant. The Beckers and the Vonns have a history, beginning years ago in high school with a rumble between the brothers of each clan.

But boys grow up. Now one Becker brother is a cop on his first homicide case. One’s a minister yearning to perform just one miracle. One is a reporter drunk with ambition. And all three are about to collide with the changing world of 1968 as each brother, in his own unique way, tries to find Janelle’s killer.

As suspects multiply and secrets are exposed, the three Becker brothers are drawn further into the case, deeper into the past, and closer to danger.


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The 1950s and ‘60s were turbulent times—supercharged with conflicts over change of every kind. In Orange County, California, some of that energy boiled over into violence between two sets of brothers—the Vonns and the Beckers. Although that infamous high school rumble is years in the past and the boys who fought have become young men, thay are all still trapped in different ways by their common past. When the body of lovely Janelle Vonn is discovered in an abandoned orange packing plant, the turbulence of those earlier times becomes relevant in a whole new way. Armed now with the skills of their adult professions—reporter, minister, and cop—the Becker brothers set out to uncover the truth about Janelle’s death. And, as more and more secrets are exposed, the risks grow too, on all sides. For whatever Janelle’s death was supposed to hide, someone thinks it’s too dangerous be allowed into the light of day.

In California Girl, award-winning mystery writer T. Jefferson Parker—author of the bestsellers Red Light and The Blue Hour—has done a wonderful job of capturing the dark, edgy side of the Summer of Love. Sue Stone

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