Chaney, who has worked as a journalist, does a marvelous job of turning his reporter's eye onto a changing time: a witness tries to explain who the Beatles are to the inspectors and suggests the officers read the fan magazines. “The Chief canceled our subscriptions,” said Belcher. Chaney reveals a gift for sharp descriptions, summarizing Malibu as the place where the Hollywood elite go for "naughty weekends, booze and pill-popping and free love" as a "respite from weekdays of booze and pill-popping and free love." The story encompasses many twists, and some of the subplots don't always connect neatly, but the profile of San Francisco in a fractious era always comes through with persuasive clarity.
Among the best of the sharply defined side characters is Gone, who tried to write a Kerouac-like novel on the "dharma spectrum." Her talk both confuses and entices Nash, who begins falling for her in a poignant romance. Nash himself also grows, finding himself increasingly torn between his role as a policeman and the changes roiling his city. Although the book is not about the Beatles, their spirits hover over the Bay as harbingers of change, though Chaney still finds room in the fog for the older spirits of Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.
Takeaway: Hardboiled detectives face murder and an ascendent counterculture on the eve of a Beatles concert.
Great for fans of: San Francisco Noir, John Lescroart.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-