As a hipster movie critic, Ann Whitehead pushed a Hollywood murder case to a bloody climax and almost died herself. Changed forever — less stupid and more fun — she has moved on to a place she knows well, the San Joaquin Valley, where her grandfather’s closest friend, Joe Balch, owns the oil company that keeps one town alive.
Balch gets Ann a job with the Oklahoma contractor drilling his wildcat well. It’s hard work, but Ann loves both it and her crusty old boss, Emmet. Then a guy on her crew is killed by a falling hammer. Sheriffs rule it an accident but Ann’s LAPD squeeze, Detective Douglas Lockwood, says it’s murder. Ann can’t resist the challenge of chasing a killer — even when the killer starts chasing her back.
From a writer whose first novel was praised as “highly literate, exceptionally action-packed and occasionally harrowing (Chicago Tribune), this is a wild ride — full of bad behavior and laughs, oil-field characters and small-town atmosphere — starring a heroine who never does anything halfway.
The Ticket Out
A Crime Novel
Ann Whitehead is sick of her job. She’s a movie critic for a counterculture rag in Los Angeles and she needs a break badly. Instead of a break, she gets a murder. A woman dies in Ann’s bathtub: the victim is a film school grad and industry hopeful. It’s the kind of story Ann was born to write, but the disgraced LAPD detective leading the investigation is determined to stop her.
The search for the killer turns into a search for the victim’s missing script, the story of another woman murdered in 1944. Suddenly there are two killers and what seems to be a complicated conspiracy spanning decades. Ann is smack in the middle and everyone she meets wants into the film business — whatever the price.
There’s never been a thriller hitched as brilliantly to the new underbelly of Hollywood as this one. Helen Knode is a startling and original voice.