Dan Fortune, Private Detective

Coming in 2016!

Dan Fortune, Private Detective
The Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning Series
Originally published under the pseudonym Michael Collins

As a teenager on the rough streets of New York City, Dan Fortune lost his arm in a failed break-in and decided it was time to go straight. The gritty Chelsea district where he grew up was his only area of expertise, which is why he ended up in the private detective business there. Still, he’s not your typical beat-’em-up, hard-boiled dick (having only one arm cuts down on the urge for a fistfight) — he relies on brains, persistence, and compassion. Well-read and self-educated, he eventually ends up doing what few other series detectives manage — he makes a radical move, from Chelsea’s dark bars and alleys to the sun-drenched paseos and celluloid dreams of Santa Barbara, California. But the job is always the same — dangerous.

Act of Fear
#1 – Act of Fear, 1967
“Smashing … leaves the reader breathless.” — Publishers Weekly
Dan Fortune’s boyhood friend Andy Pappas liked his life of crime. Taking over the docks, he became boss of bosses, a vicious racketeer. Now Dan is trying to track down a teenager in what looks like a routine missing-persons case, until the kid’s friends start dying violently, just before Dan can question them. Then Andy Pappas warns Dan that unless he cools it, he’ll end up a corpse, too. It doesn’t make sense. Why does Andy Pappas care about the kid, and what does Dan need to do to stay alive long enough to find out and maybe save him?

The Brass Rainbow
#2 — The Brass Rainbow, 1969
“Another exceptional story.” – Parade of Books
Con artists and call girls, hoods and hippies, and New York City’s untouchably wealthy populate this smashing tale of a small-time crook wanted for a murder he swears he didn’t commit. The problem lands with an ominous thud on Dan Fortune’s desk when the crook, Sammy Weiss, comes begging Dan for an alibi. But the alibi Sammy needs is for a beating, not for the murder for which he’ll soon be charged. Written in the crisp style he helped popularize, Lynds opens the floodgates to the bygone colorful era of ‘60s Chelsea in a tale The New York Daily News called “engrossing.”

Night of the Toads
#3 — Night of the Toads, 1970
“Tough, believable.” —San Francisco Examiner
Unfaltering suspense and vivid characterizations make this tale set in New York City’s theater world in the 1970s riveting. A beautiful actress vanishes. She’s the former girlfriend of a powerful Broadway impresario who’s set his sights on yet another beautiful actress, who in this case happens to be Dan Fortune’s woman — Marty Adair. Furious, jealous, Dan suspects the impresario may be behind the ex girlfriend’s disappearance, and if so, Dan is determined to find out and stop the bastard from hurting Marty. Here is an understanding of human weaknesses, a feeling for life in a great city, and an illuminating examination of the values we all live by that gives this novel its unusual power.

Walk a Black Wind
#4 — Walk a Black Wind, 1971
“One of the Year’s Best Mysteries.” — New York Times and National Observer
It’s the 1970s, and edgy New York attracts waves of newly liberated young women. When 20-year-old Francesca Crawford is stabbed to death, a secretive salesman two decades older offers Dan a small fortune to find her. Soon Dan discovers she’s a run-away. Violence follows him as he heads north to question her rich politician father. Then, oddly, the trail takes an abrupt turn into America’s vast Southwest, to a desolate Indian reservation where he finds out the terrible reason she slammed the door on her past. Swift and passion-filled, the much-lauded Walk a Black Wind is a tale of half truths and lies that erupt in murder.

Shadow of a Tiger
#5 — Shadow of a Tiger, 1972
“One of the year’s Best Mysteries.” New York Times
It’s summer in New York, and the city is steaming. At a Chelsea pawnshop, Dan Fortune meets a retired French soldier who fought on the losing side in Dien Bien Phu. Hired to guard him that night, Dan discovers the next morning that the soldier’s brother, the gentle pawnbroker, has been murdered instead. How could the killer get into the highly secure shop, unless the pawnbroker himself let him in? Foreign adventurers, vicious gang members, and an exotic Thai beauty populate this riveting tale, leading Dan to a hair-raising ending and revelations of a tortured past no one wanted to remember but few could let die.

The Silent Scream
#6 — The Silent Scream, 1973
“One of the year’s Best Mysteries.” New York Times
It takes fear to make normal people reach out to a private detective, and that’s how Dan Fortune knows his newest client, the icy Mia Morgan, isn’t normal. She hires him to investigate a lush blonde who frequents a nearby French restaurant, but she refuses to tell him why. The job turns even stranger. A wizened old man warns Dan to run, a vicious Israeli pilot threatens to remove Dan’s one good arm if he doesn’t steer clear of Mia Morgan, and a patron at the blonde’s favorite restaurant seems to know more about her than he lets on. A cabal of murderers is circling the blonde, and only Dan can unravel their conspiracy.

Blue Death
#7 — Blue Death, 1975
“Superb characters and excellent plotting.” — Booklist
From Manhattan’s executive towers to the raucous saloons and bordellos of Hoboken, Dan Fortune is caught up in the lives of men so powerful they can order murder with a nod, and of twisted criminals who openly attack him to stop his probing of why no one will take his client’s money to renew the lease on a parking garage the client runs in New York City. It seemed like a simple case. But as Dan digs, he realizes there’s a secret so important it’s driven someone to murder. No matter what, he intends to uncover him – or her.

The Blood-Red Dream
#8 — The Blood-Red Dream, 1976
“His style is staccato, matched to the action and tone.” — Washington Post
Her smile was marvelous, but as it turned out, she knew too many men. Her name is Kate, and she hires Dan Fortune to track down her Old World grandfather. The first problem — she neglects to mention he doesn’t want to be found. Set in the mid 1970s when the Cold War was raging hot, Dan confronts urban militants, Eastern European dissidents fighting to free their countries from Soviet control, and the disappearance of Kate herself. From SoHo through Chelsea and on to windswept beaches along the Atlantic coast, Dan’s pursuit reveals a changing era as he sorts through the patriots and the crooks and the liars until at last, behind them all, he finds a single shadowy killer.

The Nightrunners
#9 — The Nightrunners, 1978
“A fast-paced thriller.” —Minneapolis Tribune
A pharmaceutical baron hires Dan Fortune to drag home his brother from his latest fling gambling and writing bad checks. Soon Dan discovers the truth: the brother has disappeared with money he was supposed to use to bail his nephew out of a Mexican jail. But now there’s a bigger problem: murder. Dan follows a violently twisting trail leading from mansions and glassy skyscrapers to dark Manhattan rooftops where cop and killer stalk each other. You’ll watch backroom card games and meet high-stakes gamblers, dope-pushers, and killers — the nightrunners — until, finally, and worst of all for Dan, he has to avenge a personal loss.

The Slasher
#10 — The Slasher, 1980
“Smashing … leaves the reader breathless.” — Publishers Weekly
Yesterday, Dan Fortune’s old girlfriend, Marty Adair, called from the West Coast to ask for help. All of it came back to him, the years together, the intensity, the sex. And now she needs him. Her new husband’s niece is dead, the victim of a serial killer. Marty tells Dan the police are wrong about that. Can it be, Dan wonders as he arrives in L.A., that Marty has doubts about her husband’s real relationship with his niece? And is Marty counting on Dan’s loyalty no matter what? Hailed with rave reviews, The Slasher introduces Dan to Kay Michaels, who might become his greatest romantic love. Still, when the case is finished, he returns to New York City and the next job.

Freak
#11— Freak, 1983
“Taut, fast, and literate.” — Kirkus Reviews
When Alan and Helen Kay Campbell vanish, the only clue is scribbles on a notepad: Freak, Freak, FREAK. Worried, Alan’s father hires Dan Fortune to find the young couple. On the hunt, Dan discovers some strange relationships in the father’s cutting-edge computer company. Why is the security chief trying to find Alan on his own? Plus, two menacing strangers are also looking for the pair. From an affluent New Jersey suburb to resort towns along the Jersey shore and sleazy hotels in mid Manhattan, Dan tracks the kids to a surprising place — Arizona. The case explodes into a nightmare of terror, and Dan fights for his life as he reveals the true reason for Alan Campbell’s disappearance.

Minnesota Strip
#12 — The Minnesota Strip, 1987
“[Lynds] at his best. Powerful.” — Library Journal
In New York City in 1987, Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 57th streets is notorious for prostitution and violent crimes. Cops and locals call it the Minnesota Strip because so many of the hookers are runaways from the Midwest. It’s here a young and pretty Vietnamese woman comes to find fame, but instead ends up savagely gunned down in an alley, where thieves strip her naked. From a shabby brothel in Chelsea to the opulent mansion of a California businessman, Dan discovers someone else wants not only to solve her murder but also to avenge her death. The result is a maze of conflicts that come together in a climax that at once shocks and satisfies.

Red Rosa
#13 — Red Rosa, 1988
“Gets you in the brain, in the heart, and in the gut.” — Mystery Scene Magazine
“Who shoots a bag lady?” the policeman asked. Who’d want to murder Rosa Gruenfeld, nearly 90 years old and a lifelong fiery Communist living in a derelict hotel in bohemian Chelsea? Hired by her granddaughter to hunt down the gunman, Dan Fortune promptly finds himself targeted, too. From Rosa’s three husbands to her children and her brother, to the police and to the FBI, Dan is propelled on a trail of history and politics, bitterness and hope. As Kirkus Reviews said, “When it’s all over, the pieces of the puzzle fit with sweet inevitability. Dan survives a variety of attacks to fight the good fight another day. The reader can hope it’s in a story as suspenseful, character-rich, and absorbing as this.”

A Dangerous Job
#14 — A Dangerous Job, 1989
“Finely honed prose, suspense, and bits of reflective philosophy … crackling with excitement.” — Library Journal
If you live in New York City, you know you’re going to change your address, phone number, and job more than once. Finally, in 1989, Dan Fortune moves to Santa Barbara to be with Kay Michaels. He’s in love, real love, in fact so in love that he and Kay move in together. “She’s a woman, not an actress,” he explains. Then he’s back at work, hired to find Billy Owen. Billy always wanted to be a hero, but in truth, he’s part of an illegal gun-running operation. When someone shoots at Dan and tries to murder Billy’s brother, it’s clear Billy is in over his head. Dan faces danger from a ruthless, wealthy family as well as from the FBI and CIA. Billy turns up dead, and Dan must go deep into California’s Santa Ynez Valley and a seemingly forgotten frontier world where the old unwritten codes of the cowboy still stand.

Chasing Eights
#15 — Chasing Eights, 1990
“This page-turner is first-rate.” — Publishers Weekly
His entire life, Jack Price has “chased eights” — betting against all odds, hoping for the one poker hand that’ll win him the big jackpot. When Price discovers his latest business venture might be his last, and then a member of his weekly poker game is murdered, he runs for his life. Now Dan Fortune must bring him back. Who are the two strangers who flew into Santa Barbara that afternoon? Over the next 15 hours of an all-night poker game, Dan and Jack Price play a violent game of hide and seek with killers as they search for answers among the wheeler-dealers, street people, dropouts, and drunks of the nighttime seaside city. Will Dan be able to rescue Price from his enemies — and from Price himself?

The Irishman's Horse
#16 — The Irishman’s Horse, 1991
“High adventure. One of the best Fortune stories yet.” — Publishers Weekly
Newly married, Esther Valenzuela is visiting her parents when her husband, a young State Department diplomat, records a puzzling phone conversation. Soon she realizes she’s being followed, and her husband disappears. Frightened, she hires Dan Fortune. Threats and near-misses dog Dan as his investigation takes him from a drug-smuggling front to the murdered corpse of a business executive. Cornered, Dan is helped by a stranger known only as “the Irishman,” a dangerous and charming figure. Dan butts heads with local police, the FBI, and the CIA, as the Irishman proclaims his innocence. By the time Dan uncovers the truth, the Irishman has vanished inside his mountain stronghold. The chase hurls Dan into drug wars and secret, high-level government treachery that could cost him his life.

Cassandra in Red
#17 — Cassandra in Red, 1992
“Well-directed action, excitement, and entertainment.” — Library Journal
This is the last book in the award-winning Dan Fortune series. Not only as pulse-poundingly suspenseful as the first, it provides a satisfying conclusion to an iconic series….

As the story opens, Dan has surprised himself — his relationship with model Kay Michaels has passed through the novelty stage, and they’ve settled down together into a committed relationship. “Love does strange things to middle-aged men,” he muses. “It can actually make you happy.” At the same time, his detective business is thriving. Based on an actual case that riveted Southern California, Cassandra in Red calls upon all the great detective’s skills to find the murderers of Cassandra Reilly, a homeless woman brutally stabbed to death at midnight in a tranquil Santa Barbara park. There are no witnesses, no suspects, and no evidence. Police believe she was killed in a robbery by another homeless person. Dan doesn’t buy it. As he probes Cassandra’s life, more and more people in the widely varied strata of Santa Barbara society become suspects. When he finally uncovers the killers, bullets fly, and Dan barely escapes his own death.