Juniper Song,the aimless 20-something heroine of Follow Her Home, has loved noir fiction since she was a young girl. So when she is asked by her best friend to investigate his father’s suspicious behavior, she imagines herself following in the footsteps of her literary hero, Philip Marlowe. What Song doesn’t imagine is how deeply she will get pulled into the seedy dealings of a neo-noir Los Angeles, nor how her investigation will dredge up a family secret of her own that has haunted her for years.
Following the trail of evidence from her friends home in posh Beverly Hills to a questionable club in Koreatown, she is confounded with the thread of betrayals and deceits that she uncovers among her inner circle of friends and family. With a stubbornness of a seasoned detective, Song refuses to give up, even when very bad things begin happening to those she loves most. She is alternately knocked out, held at gunpoint, and kidnapped, yet she remains undeterred from finding out the truth about her friend’s father.
Like the noir authors that inspired this novel, Cha, a debut author, uses a stylized but direct way of writing. All the usual noir characters and plots are in place in Follow Her Home, from the femme fatale to the mysterious stranger that tails her every move. However, Cha writes with a refreshing take on the usual noir conventions. Song is eagle-eyed and cynical, but she is also compassionate when you least expect it. Without giving away the major plot points, I’ll at least say that Cha does not give the reader a happy ending to the story. What she does give us, though, is an ending that suggests that Song is an aspiring detective to watch for in the future.