Night Candy
August 7, 2023
Book Review

Night Candy

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


What could be more enticing? Serial killers amidst the sounds and sights of San Francisco at the end of the Seventies. This is a perfect jumping-on point to the wild mouse ride with unexpected twists and turns of the Colleen Hayes mystery series. Tomlinson seamlessly inserts any necessary backstory to allow any new reader to devour and enjoy this fifth entry. Colleen is an unconventional, but multilayered character. Tenacious and loyal, she will relentlessly follow any lead to uncover the truth and clear her friend, Inspector Owens of SFPD, of a bogus murder charge.

This gorgeous and smart woman is an ex-con trying to navigate the waters as an unlicensed private investigator. Colleen served almost a decade in the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility for killing her scum-bag husband, Roger. She came home from work to find Roger puttering around the kitchen sink with his toolbox nearby, on the floor. When asked where her daughter Pam was, he nonchalantly quipped, ‘In her room.’ She finds her daughter cowering on the floor of her room in a near-catatonic state. Quickly realizing the heinous nature of the daughter’s abuse, she retreats to the kitchen. Out of the toolbox, she selects a screwdriver, and completing the Frankenstein monster picture before her, she drives the screwdriver from one side of the neck to the other.

As 1979 draws to a close in San Francisco, not only does Christmas music abound, but Night Candy, the serial killer, plies his trade on the local sex workers of the dark and shadowy streets. His victims are found posed in the crucifixion position and liberally dosed with the teen fragrance, known as Night Candy. Colleen on numerous occasions has been a Confidential Informant for Owens. They have progressively forged a relationship that approaches friendship. After prison, she moved to California to hopefully stabilize her relationship with Pam. After Pam loses her pregnancy and soon-to-be grandson, she deserts Colleen without explanation or a hint of her whereabouts.

Apparently, Owens and his estranged wife, Alice, are going away for hopefully a romantic weekend. When their cabin is destroyed in an inferno, authorities find Alice’s remains with a bullet hole in the back of her head. Owens had not stayed the night, however, he was soon arrested and charged with her murder.

Tomlinson weaves a taut, action-packed mystery thriller as Colleen relentlessly pursues multiple threads and possible leads through the underbelly of San Francisco. She will wade through pimps and the organized Tongs of Chinatown to pursue leads. She knows with certainty that Owens is not the killer. She will follow leads to an ex-boyfriend, Roy Quick, and will even seek the aid of an imprisoned serial killer, serving multiple life sentences in San Quentin. The tension and intrigue is progressively ratcheted up in this page-turner, and ultimately crescendos to an explosive denouement.

Thanks to NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof of this gem in exchange for an honest review.

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