Laguna Beach, California, 1968. Matt is 16, broke and never sure where his next meal is coming from. When his big sister Jazz goes missing, the cops figure she's just another runaway hippie chick. But Matt doesn't believe it—especially not after another missing girl turns up dead.
... as much a thoughtful coming-of-age novel as a probing mystery. What keeps its elements in balance is Parker’s assured dive into SoCal history, this time the cultural war zone that was Laguna Beach in the late ’60s ... Drawing on that deep background and further inspired by nonfiction works and eyewitness accounts, Parker smoothly melds fact with fiction. Real-life cameos by Leary at the Brotherhood’s drug-induced 'experiences' mingle with the quasi-fictional ... A Thousand Steps, its title taken from one of the city’s famous beaches, is as powerful as a riptide in summer. And like those deceptively strong currents, Parker crafts this mystery slowly at first, until the cultural forces he’s laid bare threaten to inundate a family trying to stay afloat. In the process, A Thousand Steps reopens for our reconsideration the consequences of clashes between authority and freedom, order and chaos, that persist to this day—and the innocents that will always get caught in the tumult.
... gripping ... he eases off hardboiled investigative procedure to shape his protagonist as a smart, curious, self-sufficient, determined and totally likable teen ... Parker masterfully transports readers to the late ‘60s, accurately detailing daily life during those tumultuous times ... This twisty tale of a teen's desperate plan to save his sister and right his off-keel family is a compelling coming-of-age thriller that will entrance you with its ‘60s vibe and backdrop and captivate you with its engaging storytelling and a believable cast of characters—including one heroic kid you can’t help but root for.
A Thousand Steps is a unique thriller and also a coming-of-age story: the not-so-sentimental education of an impressionable teen. Mr. Parker has given us a well-designed flashback to a tie-dyed time that in some ways seems like the day before yesterday and in others feels like a century ago.