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When Lee Goldberg came out with his first book Judgment in 1985, he had no idea that the book was going to be the spark to fire up his career as an author. Twenty-three years later with over fifty other books published, Goldberg is still churning out successful thrillers with his newest book Lost Hills. Lost Hills draws the reader in with a fast-paced and exciting plot, as Goldberg masterfully uses suspense, drama, and the reader’s own curiosity to drive toward a strong climax.
Lost Hills starts with a newly hired detective Eve Ronin and her older partner investigate a triple homicide that seems impossible, in the vein of the “locked room” mysteries of Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. As a former burglary specialist, Eve is chosen to be the lead detective on the case and figure out who committed the crime, even if it means putting up with colleagues who think the rookie isn’t up for the task. She presses on amid harassment by the other cops: “Tell the captain you want to step aside and we’ll take the case off your hands.” Eve soon discovers the reason behind the harassment: a link between the murders and a scandal involving her very own department. The book itself splits the narrative between Eve’s struggle to sort out the facts of the case and her struggle to balance her life and her job without losing either one.
One of Goldberg’s talents in crafting this narrative is his ability to create a scene in the book that feels beyond authentic. His description of the crime scene is so unreal but it feels so real—he revisits it several times in the story and manages to make the scene feel fresh each time. This is partly because of Goldberg’s attention to detail: he talks about the way everything is laid out from where the bodies were taken and killed to the way the house looked on the inside. Goldberg’s greatest strength is that he can bring a scene to life and make the reader feel as if they are actually in the book themselves—the scene where Eve walks through the house feels so palpable, it gave me chills.
Goldberg also has an excellent sense of pacing, leading the reader through the book at a slow but never dull pace. One memorable scene is where Eve cloisters herself in her house herself and stays up after days of no sleep to put together a crime board of clues. The measured pace he uses as she places each clue and slowly reveals what she believes could be an answer to the mystery. Goldberg also uses Eve’s sense of emotion and flashbacks to provide the story with an extra feeling of connection between Eve and the victims. When Eve discovers one of the victims was protecting their younger brother, she relates it to how she would do the same thing while she was growing up. The connections that Eve makes with the victims helps the reader to learn and understand Eve’s past as well as giving a reason for Eve’s intensity.
Lost Hills is an awesome read. The book hooked me from its powerful first paragraph discussing the intersection of life and death until its very last sentence. It was a lot of fun to be able to play detective along with Eve and pick up on clues that seemed important or were missed throughout the whole book. This isn’t to say the book was predictable: Goldberg fills the text with surprises in how clues are revealed that are just as thrilling as the character drama. Even the ending left me with a good laugh and satisfaction—I’m a stickler for solid endings, and this book really stuck the landing. If you love a good mystery with lots of twists and turns, I would suggest picking up Lost Hills. Lee Goldberg held me until the very end due to his incredible writing techniques and the constant suspense that he continued to build up throughout the book. Lost Hills is an extraordinary read full of suspense and is definitely a book that will satisfy any mystery lover.