The Esmeralda Goodbye tells the story of a young policeman named Jake Stirling in the mid-1950s, ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima. The story is set in La Jolla, California. Jake’s father, a police detective, disappeared several years ago, after being berated for arresting the wrong person in the case of The Creeper, a case that was never solved. Jake’s mother had worked hard to support her three children, Jake, Danny, and Lucy. By getting a job as an officer, Jake could help his family out financially. But even after saving famous author Raymond Chandler’s life after an attempted suicide, Jake finds himself still on the beat. Something sinister is on tap in the small town of La Jolla, though, and Jake is about to find himself in the middle of it.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it incorporates real-life people as characters in the book. Zsa Zsa Gabor, Nicky Hilton, Lucy and Desi, and Elizabeth Taylor are either named or play a part in this story about a stolen train case that holds a diamond necklace and something else that may be much more valuable than that. The dialogue between the characters felt very real as if I was watching a movie made in the 1950s. Zsa Zsa is expectedly over-the-top and Nicky is hot-tempered.
The story has several small stories embedded within the larger story including that of Jake’s younger disturbed brother, Danny, however, the author connects all of these pieces in the end so that the reader can see the importance of each detail.
There is also a love story between Jake and his girlfriend Millie, a waitress at a diner, strewn throughout the story which gives the story a nice hometown feel. Jake is a very likable, do-good character even though he is quite green when it comes to the ways of the world.
The story also features J. Edgar Hoover, who, although he isn’t a main character in the book, is a character that drives the plot forward in terms of why the train case must be found.
I have to admit, I’ve never read any of Raymond Chandler’s work, however, I had a feeling the title of this book must have had something to do with the famous author. The author appears only two times in the book, however, I could tell that he was symbolically important in Corey Lynn Fayman’s writing. After researching it, I found out that Esmeralda is a city that was modeled after La Jolla in Chandler’s work, Playback.
Written with smooth character development and dialogue with the laidback feel of a small suburban town, The Esmeralda Goodbye will have readers fascinated and well-entertained.