The protagonist of the novel is Los Angeles police detective Jerry Leger, and he’s working on the case of Pandora Collins, sexy superstar actress. Pandora’s problem is that she has a stalker. It has been going on a long time, but lately the stalker’s advances have been getting more dangeous and sick. Worse still, not long ago, another actress who was the target of a stalker turned up dead. When the police fail to apprehend Pandora’s stalker, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She hires a contract killer. Everything goes smoothly until a misunderstanding about payment turns the assassin against Pandora. And, as the novel’s blurb puts it so well: “Pandora soon learns that the cure she called upon is worse than the disease.”
This novel grabs your attention even before page one, with a striking and touching dedication:
This book is dedicated to that small army of underpaid, overworked and forgotten people who wage a near-silent war against sexual predators. Your dedication and humanity may not always be recognized, and the good you do cannot be measured. Your success is measured in the things that never happen; the things you prevent from happening. Your reward can be seen in the joyous faces of those would-be victims who never have to face the horror and heartache of sexual predation, and in the normal lives of those victims you’ve led to recovery.
It comes as no surprise to me that the novel is very well written, as I’ve already read and enjoyed the author’s Undercover White Trash. David Kilpatrick belongs to that tiny group of self-published authors who care deeply about the quality of their work. Usually, in self-published books, grammar and punctuation errors are leaping out at me on every page. They were pretty hard to find in L.A. Stalker.
The novel contains material that some readers may find offensive: scenes of violence and sexuality (and both of those together). But the book was written in such a way that I never once felt the author was being gratuitous – just bravely honest – even when writing about rape and child molestation. One very daring scene for the author was a flashback of Pandora being molested by her father when she was about twelve. What Kilpatrick drew attention to was the idea of a child’s tolerance and acceptance of a father’s long-term abuse – something that is as true and tragic as the more horrific forms of abuse that tend to claim the spotlight. The violence of the story is complemented by an undercurrent of tenderness, brought about by detective Jerry Leger falling in love with Pandora.
I wasn’t offended at all by the sex and violence, but there was something else that bugged me – something you only detect if you read between the lines: the morality of ending. It’s difficult to talk about that without spoilers. Suffice it to say, taking into account eveything that was at stake coming up to the end, I didn’t like the author’s resolution to the story. It had the bitterness of a fall from grace, only it was written as the opposite.
Regardless, I think L.A. Stalker is a great thriller, populated by believable characters about whom the author skilfully makes you care.