Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Book Review: Vanishing in the Haight by Max Tomlinson

Vanishing in the Haight

Max Tomlinson
Series: A Colleen Hayes Mystery Book 1
Publication: Oceanview Publishing (August 20, 2019)

Description: An ex-con traces a victim’s clues to set a cold case ablaze

Between fending off a lecherous parole officer and trying to get by in 1978 San Francisco, private investigator Colleen Hayes struggles to put her life back together so she can reconnect with her runaway teenage daughter. Then her life changes dramatically. She accepts a case from wealthy, retired industrialist Edward Copeland. The old man is desperate to solve the brutal murder of his daughter, a murder that took place in Golden Gate Park eleven years earlier—during the Summer of Love. The case has since gone cold, her murderer never found. Now, in his final days, Copeland hires Colleen to find his daughter’s killer in hopes he might die in peace.

Colleen understands what it means to take a life—she spent a decade in prison for killing her ex. Battling her own demons, she immerses herself in San Francisco’s underbelly, where police corruption is rampant. Her investigation turns deadly as she pries for information, yet there is little to go on. However, a song on the radio makes her wonder—did the murdered girl leave any clues that others may have missed?

My Thoughts: Colleen Hayes is an ex-con. She spent ten years in prison for killing her ex-husband when she learned he was abusing their eight-year-old daughter. Now, she's out of prison and looking to rebuild her life. She's currently working as a security guard in an abandoned paint factory and trying to get her license as a private investigator.

A retired police officer steers her to Edward Copeland. The retired industrialist wants someone to look into the cold case death of his daughter Margaret before he dies of lung cancer. She sympathizes with him because she has lost contact with her daughter who has joined a religious cult and wants no contact with her. 

Once she begins looking into the case, she finds what looks like a coverup by the San Francisco police force. Reports go missing or she has to jump through time-consuming hoops for a chance to see them. She also finds that the people who were investigating the case when it occurred eleven years earlier are strangely unavailable to talk to her. The detective who was the lead investigator retired soon after the case. The coroner has retired and moved away. The newspaperman who wrote a number of articles about the case won't return her calls.

Colleen tracks down the lead detective but he's found dead before he can share any information with her. She also finds that she is being followed by someone who isn't reluctant to trying to burn her out at the paint factory. 

I liked Colleen who wasn't going to drop the case even if her client wants her to stop. I liked all the period details that show that this story is set in 1978. I remember the bell bottoms and jumpsuits. I remember when everyone smoked cool cigarettes like Virginia Slims or macho cigarettes like Marlboros. Colleen even drives a cool car and teases her retired police consultant for his Pinto.

This is the first book in a new mystery series. I look forward to reading more of Colleen's adventures.

Favorite Quote:
The results of revenge could last forever, but the relief they provided was fleeting.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.


  1. Thanks for introducing me to the series. I will be looking out for these.

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