Review: A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

I was sucked in by the setup—in 1968, a teenage boy searches for his missing sister. He knows she was kidnapped, but the cops think she’s just another hippie who dropped out, so he has to find her. For the most part, the novel delivers on the premise. What kept me from loving it was that the author seems to be interested in making this a coming-of-age novel in addition to a mystery, so the search for the missing sister unfolds at a pretty slow pace as the protagonist does some teenage boy coming of age stuff that was less interesting to me than the mystery.


For a book that takes place in the 60’s underground and, for the most part, paints cops as ineffectual at best and malicious at worst, this takes what seems to me a pretty sharp right turn (politically speaking) at the end. Trotting out the right-wing myths of people on acid thinking they can fly (I mean, I guess it might have happened at some point?) and protestors greeting returning Vietnam vets with abuse (particularly weird in this book because how do the protestors know when the bus is coming with the returning soldiers on it?) both make an appearance, and, in the end, the problem can only be solved by men with guns.

Also, it has to be said that there is not a single well-developed female character in the book. We come closest with the mom, but even she is pretty one-note in the end.

So, overall, it was entertaining. Would have been better if it were a hundred pages shorter.

#review #books