Good Morning, Killer

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ana Grey is a different type of protagonist for an old genre—she is flawed, passionate, danger-seeking. Her first appearance in North of Montana (1994) introduced a fit character for the postmodern detective story—a person for whom right and wrong are inextricably tangled, who can well represent an era of blurred boundaries and unending complications. In Good Morning, Killer she is investigating the kidnapping of a teenager who may be the victim of a rapist/serial killer. When the girl turns up brutalized and terrified, Ana becomes personally involved with the investigation and with the general issue of how victims are treated by those in authority.

Ana’s own story parallels and interacts with her investigation, as she is working with Andrew Berringer of the Santa Monica Police Department, who is also her somewhat withdrawn and unreliable lover. During a fierce confrontation with him, Ana, feeling physically as well as psychologically threatened, pulls a gun and shoots him. Now her own position is damaged by the fact that she has wounded a colleague, but she does not stop pursuing her obsessive investigation, which leads her not only to a confrontation with a deranged killer but to a totally unexpected and startling discovery. As is the case in many detective novels, she finds out as much about herself a she does about the case.

Ana is a disturbing but nonetheless compelling character, subtly drawn and believable. Fans of cozies and of perfect poetic justice in fiction will not care for this novel, but for those with a taste for the unexpected and for complexity, it is an exhilarating trip through the streets and alleys of Santa Monica as well as the dark places of the human psyche.