Black Current

A Mystery

A Jaymie Zarlin Mystery (Volume 2)

Karen Keskinen

Minotaur Books

How far would you go to avenge someone you love?

It’s August, and Santa Barbara, California hasn’t tasted a drop of rain for months when P.I. Jaymie Zarlin learns a popular high school athlete has drowned in a tank at the city aquarium. The police are calling Skye Rasmussen’s death an accident, but his distraught parents, unconvinced, hire Jaymie to find out the truth.

Eager to prove she’s up to the challenge of solving the case, Jaymie investigates and uncovers an array of suspects. But when information begins to surface about her own brother, who died three years ago in the downtown jail, Jaymie is torn between doing right by her clients and exposing the truth about a mystery that lies much closer to home.


Set in a seaside city splashed in sunshine and laced with poisonous secrets, Karen Keskinen's Black Current is a riveting story about the treacherous secrets we keep and the costly sacrifices we make - all to hold on to the people we love.


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It was early, just past seven, and I was the first tenant to arrive at the bungalow court at 101 West Mission. I wheeled my bike over the curb and up the steps, glancing at the seagull-spattered plaque near the bottom of the board. JAYMIE ZARLIN, SANTA BARBARA INVESTIGATIONS—SUITE D. Yep, that was me.

A giant fern frond patted my cheek with dew as I pushed my way down the path. Next time I’d need to bring a machete. The courtyard was a jungle these days, the giant bird-of-paradise plants towering over the huddle of stucco offices. The landlord



Praise for Black Current

Praise for Black Current

“Readers sad to see the end approach of Sue Grafton’s novels about another perky California PI should investigate this series.”
--Publishers Weekly

"Clever and complex, “Black Current” is an addictive read that surpasses even its fine predecessor, “Blood Orange.”  Complete with a cast of eccentrics – intrepid Jaymie is particularly fascinating – it confirms Keskinen’s stature as a master of sun-splashed noir worthy of Sue Grafton.”
--Richmond Times-Dispatch


"Keskinen juggles multiple plotlines skillfully and develops secondary characters...in this second entry in an appealing series."


"Exciting...Keskinen has created yet another well-crafted and fast-paced murder mystery with a strong, well-rounded protagonist. Let's hope we hear a lot more from Jaymie Zarlin." 
--Santa Barbara News-Press

"Seethes with mystery and intrigue.... A beautiful, richly entertaining series." 
--Gumshoe Review

"A sleeper... The story flows well and the characters live up to their billing. You can really feel the frustration of dealing with Skye's grandfather and understand his parents' grief and inability to accept a too easy explanation for the death of a promising young man."

Praise for Blood Orange

"Engaging...Refreshing...A multi-dimensional psychological mystery."

"Energetically lurid...Those looking for sensation will find it all." 

 "Promising... Definitely fits into the Sue Grafton mold."
Library Journal

"A briskly told tale with escalating danger...A promising start to a likely series."

"An impressively twisted and unpredictable noir murder mystery...An entertaining and surprisingly authentic page-turning experience."
 —Santa Barbara Independent

"An impressive debut with echoes of Sue Grafton and Ross Macdonald."
 —Denise Hamilton, author of Damage Control

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Karen Keskinen

  • KAREN KESKINEN was born in Salinas, California. She has also lived in California’s San Joaquin Valley and in Wellington, New Zealand. She now resides in Santa Barbara where she is a full-time writer. Keskinen is the author of Blood Orange and Black Current.

  • Karen Keskinen
    Karen Keskinen


Available Formats and Book Details

Black Current

A Mystery

A Jaymie Zarlin Mystery

Karen Keskinen



Minotaur Books