By People Staff
Updated April 30, 2001 12:00 PM
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by T. Jefferson Parker

Book of the week

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Joe Trona, the mannerly narrator of T. Jefferson Parker’s sun-drenched L.A. noir, likes baptisms; he has had 20. They help him feel whole again, the way he was before his father threw acid on him when he was 9 months old, scarring him and bringing him notoriety as the Acid Baby. But after his childhood adoption by Will Trona, an upright Orange County supervisor, Joe grows up to be an amateur P.I., helping Will ferret out corrupt colleagues with jobs like planting bugs and eavesdropping. So when Will is ambushed and killed while ransoming a tycoon’s daughter, the muscular Joe, now 24, naturally investigates. “If a man like your father gets killed,” a gangster’s moll tells him, “his friends do it.” Sure enough, Joe discovers that Will’s well-connected acquaintances have secrets dirtier than L.A.’s air. If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he is also pursuing his first serious romance, with a sparky TV interviewer, even as the monster who disfigured him suddenly reappears. (Hyperion, $23.95)

Bottom Line: This shhh-amus ought to be famous