Janie Jenkins was 18 when she was convicted for murdering her socialite mother with whom her relationship was tenuous at best. She was 28 when she was released from prison after an investigation by L. A. County into the handling of forensic evidence uncovered some irregularities. Janie has mixed memories of discovering her mother’s body and the aftermath.
A minor socialite in her own right, in the ilk of Paris Hilton, the murder, trial, conviction and ultimate release were followed with relish by the media. The fact that she disappeared immediately after her release fueled speculation, in particular, from a crime blogger, Trace Kessler, whose blog Without a Trace, made it its own personal mission (and has offered a reward) to find Janie and ultimately make her pay for her crime.
Having little to go on, just snippets of a conversation she eavesdropped on between her mother and an unknown man shortly before her death and an inordinate amount of time in the prison library doing research, Janie devises a plan to find out the truth. It means changing her identity and her looks and even keeping her 8th and dedicated attorney, Noah, in the dark about her whereabouts.
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little is part mystery, part psychology, part suspense. Dressed as a dowdy young woman with a different hair style and color she makes her way forward. However you can take the girl out of L.A. but you can’t L.A. out of the girl. She narrates the whys and hows of her rise to celebrity status, who she slept with, took drugs with. She critiques the appearance and dress, based on Hollywood standards, of those she meets on her quest.
I mentioned in a Facebook status update that I both liked and disliked Janie. In some ways she’ll always be the little Hollywood snot but in others she’s desperate to relinquish her anti-social stature and make friends and find the truth. It’s almost like someone with multiple personalities.
Dear Daughter will keep you reading. You will want to know what happened. I, for one, didn’t think she did it, but from the beginning you’re never sure. I will say one thing though, I did not like the ending one bit.
Little, whose previous books were non-fiction, is a fine suspense writer. I look forward to reading more of her work.