Woman in Marble
A George Malcolm Mystery, 1972
“In the Hammett-Chandler-Macdonald tradition.” — New York Times
Originally published under the pseudonym Carl Dekker
George Malcolm is a different kind of detective. Deadly, yes. But also quiet and efficient, apparently ordinary in all respects. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three children. His neighbors think he “works in an office.” Actually, he works out of an office: Lion Security — Guards and Investigations.
He has an impossible assignment: track down author Wallace Boyd, who wrote the mega-bestseller The Cardboard Prince. Although Boyd is now rich and famous, he’s not nearly as rich and famous as the person on whom he based the novel — Keith Danton, movie star, heart-throb, wildly popular, and mysterious. The novel was incendiary, for many of the events were true. But there were incidents in Danton’s past about which even Boyd didn’t know. And Boyd’s wife, Grace, wants to find out what those are, because she was with the actor in the earliest days.
Soon after Grace starts digging, she’s murdered, leaving Malcolm with no lead. Still, he doggedly backtracks, finds bits and pieces that might mean something, and suddenly he has suspects, more and more, until he’s swamped with a variety of passionate motives. What had started as a simple hunt for a talented, reclusive novelist has turned into a startling conclusion: the one person who savaged the most people was the most victimized of all.
The Cadillac Cowboy
A Ford Morgan Thriller, 1995
“Complex and rewarding.” — Booklist
Originally published under the pseudonym Michael Collins
Mystique envelopes former spies, and Ford Morgan is no exception. Once CIA, he’s left it all behind for the mountains of Costa Rica where he’s so isolated from urban centers that his daily run takes him along a high jungle path through the clouds. It’s a lush, primitive place he plans never to leave – until he gets a letter from his beautiful ex-wife – and now also the beautiful ex-wife of one of America’s richest men.
Her name is Rachel Baliol, and she writes that her son, Johnny, has been charged with the attempted murder of his father, Wall Street baron Ralph Baliol. Morgan flies to Montecito, California, an enclave of the wealthy, where Rachel is waiting, and Ralph is in the hospital.
Ralph Baliol has made a career of making enemies – federal regulators among them – by screwing everyone with whom he works. Strangely, he seems uninterested in finding out who tried to kill him. In fact, Ralph claims not even to remember the attack, which happened while Johnny’s girlfriend was in Ralph’s bed – a very big reason Johnny is the police’s Number One suspect. The girlfriend claims to know nothing, too.
As his investigation leads deep into the affairs (business and sexual) of the extended Baliol clan, Morgan hurries north to the California logging town of Gaul, where he discovers Ralph needs cash and has decided to clear-cut endangered redwood forests, making him a target of both local environmentalists and his own logging employees, who will lose their jobs when the trees are gone.
But none of them is Morgan’s biggest problem. Instead, it’s Ralph’s quixotic hired gun – Roy Shepherd, the Cadillac Cowboy of the story’s title. In this gripping tale, the author has given us not one, but two strong, intriguing characters. While Morgan is the ostensible protagonist, it is the startling contrasts and similarities between Shepherd and him that drive the book.
Bound by personal codes, Morgan is brought to the edge, fighting Ralph and Roy against impossible odds. With complex characters, mysterious money, lust, and murder propelling his investigation, Morgan has the chance to settle old scores; and more importantly, recover the one treasure he never expected to lose.