A Review by Don Sloan
Dirk Dixon’s dough has disappeared. He’s been shorn like a prize sheep, fleeced by a finagling femme fatale, screwed like a — never mind; you get the picture.
Luckily, he has one of the best private investigators in modern fiction on the case, and the resulting story is truly one of the most inventive hardboiled detective tales in years.
Dixon, a famous — though self-absorbed — movie star, lost millions when his new girlfriend skipped town with literally everything he owned. And she didn’t leave so much as a hair follicle behind for private eye Bart Northcote to begin a trace.
Nevertheless, the cold trail grows warmer by the day as Bart and his unlikely but highly competent all-female team of agency associates begin tracking down (a) the scheming girlfriend and (b) the $25 million she stole.
The scent leads them to the Oakland airport, where a young woman resembling the elusive Laura Lowell has been detained. Bart and a giddy Dirk Dixon descend on the interrogation room where she’s being held but — in a stunning turn of events — the detainee proves graphically that she can’t possibly be the swindler, despite Dixon’s vigorous assertions.
The gleeful girl departs and, shortly thereafter, Bart discovers the truth — Laura has a lookalike twin sister who is helping in the heist.
This masterfully crafted novel then leads the reader through a series of exhaustive — but brilliant — countermoves as Bart and his team methodically dissect the caper, from its origins in Great Britain to the successful sting in Los Angeles.
Along the way, they discover the twins’ second victim in the Grand Cayman islands. Ironically, the missing money has just passed through the tropical banking haven and Bart finds himself standing in frustration on a dock, watching one of the girls depart with heavy bags of recently converted currency.
How many more millions will be transferred into the conniving sisters’ bank accounts from hapless tycoons who fall headlong into their well-practiced con? Only Bart and his intrepid trio of teammates stand between them and a scot–free existence in the lap of luxury.
The final series of events — painstakingly plotted and skillfully written — will leave you shaking your head in admiration at this superb detective novel.
Here are a few examples of the kind of writing that abounds in the book:
“He had never been handsome, and his face now looked weathered and deeply creased, but his eyes were accentuated by the way the surrounding flesh had receded, exposing a dazzling blue within deep sockets.”
And this, describing the sultry seductress moving in for the kill:
“She obviously wanted to keep my mind on the bliss that awaited me within a lifetime of her attentions. It was all I could do to fake interest in a hungry female praying mantis.”
From start to finish, the book earns five-plus stars for its excellent pacing, clever plot twists and sheer ability to entertain.