Eureka

Diehl, William

Published by Fawcett, 2003
ISBN 10: 0345411471 / ISBN 13: 9780345411471
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Synopsis: Eureka. It’s what you say when you strike gold. It’s also a town in California where the truth might be buried forever.

In New York Times bestselling author William Diehl’s thrilling, accomplished new novel, the seamy past of America’s most glamorous state lies in this deceptively peaceful area, one hundred miles north of Los Angeles. It was the lawless place from which young, rugged Thomas Culhane escaped to fight World War I. Now it’s a place where, two decades later, police detective Zeke Bannon investigates a death that seems a sad accident.

Until you look a bit closer.

The year is 1941. Verna Wilensky has been electrocuted in her bathtub, leaving a lower-middle-class life, no survivors, and a bank account packed with almost a hundred thousand dollars. Mysterious checks have consistently come to her for more than twenty years, most drawn from a bank in San Pietro, a town once known as Eureka.

Eureka was a town that used to be a bootlegger’s paradise and a gangster’s dream. Now it is the rebuilt metropolis where Sheriff Thomas Culhane is launching a bid to be the golden state’s next governor. But something just might threaten his ambitions. As Bannon digs deeper into Wilensky’s demise, he unearths a decades-old secret that starts in a shootout, builds to a bloodbath, and could end up within the upper echelons of California’s elite, forever changing the destiny of a state.

Rich in historical detail, complex in its connection between past and present, and filled with the nonstop action that are the hallmarks of this modern master, Eureka is an epic achievement of storytelling and suspense–William Diehl’s most extraordinary novel yet.
From the Hardcover edition.

Review: William Diehl clearly understands the three essentials of any bestselling 1940s-era crime thriller: gangsters, gunplay, and guilty secrets. But Eureka isn't just another noirish shoot-'em-up, as shallow and forgettable as a stoolie's grave. It's a combustible, epic-aspiring saga about long-ago violence and the limits of justice, about revenge and redemption and two rivalrous lawmen drawn together by common ideals.

Most of the action centers around Zeke Bannon, a young L.A. cop whose probing into the murder of a mysterious widow--electrocuted in her own bathtub--leads him to the once-sinful town of Eureka, now called San Pietro. It's from there that she'd been receiving anonymous cashier's checks over the last two decades, money Bannon figures she earned by her silence. Was she helping to cover up the truth about a 1921 shootout that caused the death of Eureka's frontier-style sheriff? Nobody in modern San Pietro will talk, least of all Thomas "Brodie" Culhane, a World War I hero who cleaned up the town and is now running for governor of California. Torn between admiring Culhane and trying to link him to the widow's killing, Bannon ignites historical enmities that threaten to express both men to their graves.

Although Diehl offers ample cinematic violence here, there's little true menace, and a romantic subplot involving Bannon with a gorgeous banker is neither credible nor effectively exploited. Still, Eureka is a polished work, full of careful character studies and drama, with a gasp-provoking solution that few readers will anticipate. --J. Kingston Pierce

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Title: Eureka
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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