a novel of 60s Los Angeles
Pandora's Box is a literary mystery set against the backdrop of folk rock and the famous November, 1966 Sunset Strip youth riots. A story of how the loss of dignity can drive some to violence while offering others an opportunity for transformation, it is the first in a series that follows Don Ravenswood as he solves murders within the ever-changing music scene of Los Angeles.
Hollywood, 1966. Don Ravenswood is an aspiring photographer, amateur philosopher and a young man in free fall; the love of his life has just left him for another man. When he befriends four teenage groupies enjoying their pre-college summer in Sunset Strip's groovy mod scene, he quickly forms a bond with elder leader Wendy and the artistic Rochelle. But it is in the troubled Renee that Don sees a reflection of his own intense heartbreak. When Renee is found dead after a music industry party, the police dismiss it as a drug overdose, but this doesn't ring true for Don, who suspects murder.
Don's investigation takes him from Hollywood to Laurel Canyon, Topanga Canyon and Malibu, where he finds no shortage of suspects. At Pandora's Box, the club where Renee was last seen, are bickering owners Leo and Gina Moon. At dive bar London Fog is Renee's ex-con boyfriend, Austen. Then there is her favorite rock band, The Bliss, whose wild leader, Johnny Planet, has suddenly disappeared. The parents of the groupies are harboring secrets of their own and even the police detective handling the case seems to have a veiled connection to Renee. The mod scene is also on edge, clashing with an overzealous police force.
Don is surprised to find subtle connections between his quest to solve Renee's death and his desperate need to understand his girlfriend's sudden departure. He is more surprised to find that the strong friendships between the groupies may not be as strong as he thought. An attempt to drown Don during his first acid trip is soon followed by the reappearance of Johnny Planet, as a corpse. When Renee's diary also appears, it reveals a sexual liaison that brings into focus several key suspects.
As the story reaches a crescendo, Don finds himself in the middle of the real-life November, 1966 teenage rebellion against police harassment and ground zero is Pandora’s Box, the dance club that may hold the key to the mystery. Also at ground zero is Rochelle, a witness to the crime who is on the run and may be the next murder victim, unless Don can stop it. First he'll need to solve the final piece of the puzzle and defeat a determined killer in a life-or-death struggle atop Malibu's desolate Point Dume.