Blood Relations

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An Edgar Award Finalist from a writer who’s been compared to Michael Crichton, Alfred Hitchcock, and Raymond Chandler takes us to the most menacing core of California’s upper crust, a class of billionaires with more money than they could spend in eternity.

Who is Claire Gravesend?

So wonders PI Lee Crowe when he finds her dead, in a fine cocktail dress, on top of a Rolls Royce, in the most dangerous neighborhood in San Francisco. Claire’s mother, Olivia, is one of the richest people in California. She doesn’t believe the coroner: her daughter did not kill herself. Olivia hires Crowe, who–having just foiled a federal case against a cartel kingpin–is eager for distraction. But the questions about the Gravesend family pile up fast.

First, the autopsy reveals round scars running down Claire’s spine, old marks Olivia won’t explain. Then, Crowe visits Claire’s Boston townhouse and has to fend off an armed intruder. Is it the Feds out for revenge? Or is this connected to the Gravesends? He leaves Boston afraid, but finds his way to Claire’s secret San Francisco pied-à-terre. It’s there that his questions come to a head. Sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, he finds Claire–her face, her hair, her scars–and as far as he can tell, she’s alive. And Crowe’s back at the start:

Who is Claire Gravesend?


For my daughter, Sally Mahina Moore Wang


The first time I saw Claire Gravesend she was already dead. She hadn't been that way long. She was lying in front of the Refugio Apartments on Turk Street, still warm, still with color on her cheeks. I put two fingers on the left side of her throat and confirmed what was already obvious. I didn't consider calling 911. The last thing I wanted to do right then was talk to the police. And anyway, it was too late to do her any good.


Claire Gravesend.


Let me back up and explain a few things.


I saw the man when I lowered the camera. He'd been coming along the sidewalk, rolling a black cart lashed with silver boxes. But he'd come to a full stop, and was staring at the car in openmouthed shock. I couldn't tell whether he could see the girl or not. It took him a while to even notice me, and then he sized me up, looking from me to my camera to the crushed car.


The door to my office was up a set of stairs between the entrances to a Vet Center and a credit union. I had a little sign hanging down from the portico.


An hour later, I had signed, scanned and emailed a boilerplate contract. My photograph would be online by nine, and on grocery store racks in three days. I'd get a thousand dollars from Just Now!magazine, with a 200 percent kicker if the woman turned out to be a "Person of Consequence"—a carefully defined term on page three that had probably been drafted by a lawyer on Wilshire Boulevard who didn't find that task any stranger than selling a Rolls Royce by parking it on skid row. I could pretend to sneer all I wanted, but I'd cash the check when it came.


"Last night we had an in-chamber conference," Jim was saying. "It didn't go the way I'd hoped."


It had been a relatively straightforward operation. Easy, and yet the dirtiest thing I'd ever done.


On Sale
Jun 18, 2019
Page Count
368 pages