About the Book
Perfect for fans of Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, Gil Reavill’s gripping new Layla Remington thriller plunges readers beneath the glittering facade of Hollywood and into a terrifying underworld where beautiful women can
just . . . disappear.
just . . . disappear.
Malibu is crumbling. A monster earthquake has just ripped apart some of the priciest real estate on the planet. In a bizarre twist, it has also exposed a grisly tableau buried for years beneath one particularly unstable hilltop: a steel barrel containing the mummified remains of Tarin Mistry, the beautiful starlet who went missing a decade ago. When Detective Investigator Layla Remington looks into that wretched metal coffin, she realizes she’s just landed the case of a lifetime.
But before Layla even strips off her latex gloves, a pair of hotshot LAPD detectives arrive on the scene and pull her off the investigation. Undeterred, Layla pursues her own line of inquiry, risking her badge and her life to track down Tarin’s murderer: from the rarified air of exclusive canyon communities to seedy sex clubs downtown, all the way to the secluded lair of one of Hollywood’s most powerful men. But while Tarin’s a cold case, her killer is poised to strike again–and, in Layla, this depraved sociopath has just found fresh prey.
Gil Reavill is a journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. Widely featured in magazines, Reavill is the author of a crime novel, Thirteen Hollywood Apes, nominated for a Thriller Award from International Thriller Writers. He has written two works of crime non-fiction: Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers, and the Meeting That Unmasked the Mob, and Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. He lives in New York with his wife, the author Jean Zimmerman, and their daughter.
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Her mother suggested that God must have meant for the girl’s body to be found. It had been extremely well hidden, concealed in an eighty-five-gallon steel drum, the barrel sealed shut, weighted with a concrete slab and buried on a remote hillside in Malibu, California.
“Our darling would have been there until Christ summoned her on the Final Day,” said Cathy Gunion, a woman of such severe evangelical beliefs that her daughter had fled the family home to escape.
For a long time, the barrel remained safe and secure in its subterranean home. The area was locked in a terrible drought, and even in normal times was celebrated for its relative lack of rain. Water, the enemy of all those at rest beneath the ground, never penetrated the four-foot-deep retreat.
The naked victim was drugged and unconscious when she was placed in the barrel. A terrible question naturally occurs. Did she wake? We can only imagine the horror if she did. Better to believe that the airless confines of the steel drum produced a gentle, sleepy asphyxiation.
Days, then weeks, passed. Spinal and brain fluid leaked from the dead girl’s orifices. She bloated, the bloat collapsed, the body began the long process of dry decay, more familiarly known as mummification. Months, then years. At some point her fingernails detached from her hands, to drop off and land soundlessly in the soft muck at the bottom of the barrel.
Only the girl’s hair survived unchanged, feathery, white-blond, her most distinctive feature while she was alive. Human hair is nearly indestructible. Fire will do it, of course, but most acids won’t, nor will immersion in water or exposure to ultraviolet rays. The simple march of time seems to have no effect. In the waste pools of Auschwitz there is still hair from Holocaust victims, intact seven decades after the fact.
Unstirred by the ocean breezes up top, the limp hair of the victim in the barrel remained, like a marker or a calling card.
Or a prayer.
Five years, two months, sixteen days. The prayer changed, became distilled, refining itself to its essence.
What could accomplish that hopeless task? How would it possibly happen? Who might turn up such an unsavory, unseen prize?
A contractor at work on a foundation for a million-dollar Malibu mansion? A crew of laborers digging a trench for a gas main? Some mad treasure hunter?
None of the above. Whether a divinity was responsible, as the born-again mother claimed, or perhaps some darker force, it would not be human agency that evicted “our darling” from her makeshift crypt.