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I’m kind of partial to procedurals with “plucky” heroines (think Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, French’s Antoinette Conway or Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone. So, when I read that Dianne Emley had a new book, Lying Blind, featuring the recurring character Detective Nan Vining (a character I had never encountered) and that the new book was described as a “hard-edged thriller for fans of Patricia Cornwell, Tana French, and Lisa Gardner,” I was ready to meet Nan!

How have I missed this series? Emley’s previous Nan Vining books include The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, Love Kills, and Killing Secrets. In this latest in the series, Pasadena, CA’s Homicide detective Nan Vining gets involved in a murder case and arrives at a mansion where a beautiful young woman is floating face down in the infinity pool. Nan is curious as to why her boyfriend, Sergeant Jim Kissick has arrived on the scene first. Why did the homeowner contact Jim first (via text), before placing the 911 call that brought Nan to the scene?

Jim’s explanation is that he is old friends with the homeowners, Teddy and Rebecca Sexton. Nan begins to investigate, and becomes certain that the three of them are all hiding something. Meanwhile, in Lake Nacimiento (near Paso Robles, CA) a body is discovered, and that investigation brings detectives from that jurisdiction south. Soon the two crimes are intertwined and Nan feels like her relationship with Jim is falling apart.

Nan is a great character, the story is well plotted, and I enjoyed it a great deal. While there are some references to past experiences for Nan and Jim, I didn’t feel like I should have read the previous books in order to follow this one (although I plan to read earlier books in this series and hope I won’t get the “oh crap, I should have read this one first! Now I know what happens to these people!” feeling). There was a slight convenience to the resolution, meaning a tiny bit less of a rating, but overall I really enjoyed this!

Other fans of plucky heroines will enjoy this, as will people who enjoyed T. Jefferson Parker’s earlier books set in Southern California. (Everyone who has lived in Orange County seems to enjoy Parker’s early novels). Both Parker and Emley do a great job capturing the feel of SoCal, and I look forward to reading more by this author. Four enthusiastic stars, and thanks to Random House/Alibi and NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.