Simeon Grist is a private eye and Los Angeles is his city. It’s Raymond Chandler country, especially the parts Grist sees – like the dank underbelly that lies between Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards, where all the California dreaming is a nightmare. But beggars and private eyes can’t be too choosy, and Grist is on a new case – one that leads him down the streets of LA and into the dead, dark places of a killer’s heart.
It starts off on Hollywood Boulevard, a street filled with runaways who quickly lose their innocence and sometimes their lives. Missing is a thirteen-year-old from Kansas, Aimee Sorrell, a/k/a Dorothy Gale, who didn’t find Oz over this rainbow. In fact, from the Polaroids her mother got in the mail, Aimee found nothing less than hell – drugs, pornography, and sexual slavery. It is the not-so-pretty pictures, and especially the marks on the girl’s body, that convince Grist to take the Sorrell case and to begin his search among the castoffs and criminals of an all-night diner, a 24-hour magnet for the displaced.
But the trail soon leads him to the city morgue, where the kid on the slab isn’t Aimee, but another runaway with the same kind of marks. Grist knows that there’s more than a pedophile at work here. There’s a child sex-for-sale ring that’s proof positive of the human race’s downhill slide into immorality and perversion. Grist’s problem is finding out who’s running the ring – and getting Aimee back before she’s the next corpse in a refrigerated drawer.
His solution is to enlist the aid of another teen, a pretty, middle-class kid named Jessica, who thinks fun is flirting with a coke dealer ten years too old for her. Jessica needs a lesson in reality, but Grist doesn’t anticipate that taking her along might jeopardize both their lives. For Grist and Jessica are going to find out what happens to the lost children of America when they go looking for love in all the wrong places.