Books by Collin Wilcox

CALCULATED RISK by Collin Wilcox
Released: Sept. 6, 1995

Wilcox's 30th novel starts off with a routine gay-bashing in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood that turns not-so-routine when the late Charles Hardaway's phone records link him and his AIDS-stricken roommate, Randy Carpenter, to Carpenter's old school friend Harold Best. Best is the clean-cut candidate for the US Senate who was paying Carpenter's AZT billsand may have been paying Hardaway blackmail as well. How eager were Best's ambitious wife and her kingmaker father to hide his bisexual past from the tabloidsand how much more eager will they be now to send Lt. Frank Hastings (Switchback, 1993, etc.) back to San Francisco with his tail between his legs? Pro forma professionalism from a veteran, with a particularly deft use of Hastings's office romance with Insp. Janet Collier to ratchet up the tension as Hastings closes in on his prey. Read full book review >
FIND HER A GRAVE by Collin Wilcox
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

Capo Carlo Venezzio dies of a heart attack while in prison, but not before he's ordered right-hand man Tony Bacardo to see that a million dollars' worth of diamonds has been salted away for his illegitimate daughter, Louise, and her daughter, Angela. To help Louise claim the jewels, hidden in a cemetery in tiny Fowler's Landing, California, Bacardo, now swearing allegiance to another don, Benito Cella, must tread carefully; meanwhile, a mafia soldier, Fabrese, is on his trail and wants the diamonds for himself, so Bacardo hotfoots it back to New York, telling the women to recover the jewels themselves. They call in part-time p.i. Alan Bernhardt (Except for the Bones, etc.), who witnesses a double- cross—which leads to a double-kidnapping. The mafia then reenters the picture, and Bernhardt must exert last-minute heroics to avert a bloodbath. A persuasive primer on the mafia's business methods and ethics. Old pro Wilcox characterizes the mobsters so deftly that his story suffers when it switches focus to Bernhardt. Flawed but clever. Read full book review >
SWITCHBACK by Collin Wilcox
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

San Francisco homicide co-commander Frank Hastings (Dead Center, etc.), in trying to make sense out of beautiful Lisa Franklin's life and death (a jogger found her body out at Baker Beach), interviews her neighbors, the burned-out Jamie and the spaced-out C.J., along with her roommate Barbara Estes—and learns not only that the two women were lovers but also that Lisa, a self- labeled ``courtesan,'' was being kept in solvency by three men, one of whom was the target of an SEC investigation. Using as an excuse that he needs a woman's insights, Frank draws Inspector Janet Collier into the case; and while Hastings wrestles with his craving for her, she scours Lisa's journals and concludes that the woman was a blackmailer. Then C.J. is murdered; more blackmailers are revealed; and the final unraveling finds Janet going mano a mano with a killer.... Surprisingly sloppy work from Wilcox (he puts credit cards in the victim's purse, for instance, then later says she had no charge cards), but he almost salvages this with a deft plot-twist or two and a compelling portrait of the beginnings of an affair. Read full book review >
DEAD CENTER by Collin Wilcox
Released: April 15, 1992

Lt. Frank Hastings, of San Francisco's Homicide Department, has a serial killer on his hands when it slowly emerges that four efficiently dispatched victims were all members of the posh Rabelais Club, as well as participants in a regular, weekly poker game there. Both the club's manager and its presiding officer, however, are eager to keep the club out of the papers, and, applying pressure to Hastings' superiors, they've warned him off. Unintimidated, Hastings and co-commander Friedman persist in investigating, eventually discovering a distant scandal—the death of a hooker at a club retreat weekend—along with cheating episodes at the gaming table, which resulted in a waiter's dismissal. Backed up by unit newcomer Janet Collier, Hastings unknowingly walks into the killer's lair; his lucky escape from death at the madman's hands will leave him so emotionally fragile that he turns for comfort to the idolizing Collier—with every indication that there are complications ahead for his relationship with his longtime love Ann. Solid, steady detective work from old pro Wilcox (17 Hastings titles to date), this time displaying a casual cynicism toward the mores of the power elite and a deepening vulnerability in Hastings's character. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

Book three in the author's Alan Bernhardt series (Silent Witness, 1990; Bernhardt's Edge, 1988) has a token appearance by Frank Hastings, SFPD, and a practically invisible Bernhardt, who merely hovers at the edges of his case: to find out who wealthy, powerful real-estate mogul Preston Daniels was carting to the Cape Cod dump in a garbage bag. Daniels's stepdaughter, the unattractive, unloved Diane Cutler, spied on the dump run, as did her drug-supplier/sometime-lover Jeff. When Jeff dies ``accidentally'' and someone starts stalking her after she's hotfooted it cross-country for safety, Diane admits she's scared, and Bernhardt steps in—just as Daniels's personal pilot/hit-man and a crooked Cape police chief demand bigger silence payoffs. Which of Daniels many blond bimbo mistresses got dumped? Did his wife know, or even care? How many times will Daniels kill to keep the first death a secret? At least once—before Bernhardt, the tycoon, the pilot, and the sheriff collide in a dark, smelly corner of the landfill. No surprises, just steady, quiet narration professionally humming to an inevitable conclusion. A civilized way to be scared. Read full book review >
HIRE A HANGMAN by Collin Wilcox
Released: April 4, 1991

Long-running Lieutenant Hastings and his co-captain of San Francisco homicide, the irascible Friedman, suspect early on that surgeon Brice Hanchett, shot leaving his mistress's apartment, was not a random mugging victim—but pinpointing the killer takes a while. Everybody, it turns out, hated the doctor—including his wife, her lover, the stepdaughter he abused, his mistress's ex, and the Bells, whose son died when Hanchett denied him a liver transplant. Then the crazed Mrs. Bell is shot dead, and evidence suggest that she may have killed the doctor. But who killed her? Solid detective work (some of it extralegal—e.g., breaking and entering by p.i. Alan Bernhardt, Wilcox's other series hero) exhumes this year's trendiest motive—incest—but then discards it in favor of old-fashioned greed, which unravels a two-person conspiracy. Wilcox, a master of narrative understatement, offers police- procedural fans a good story that quietly builds to a semi-cynical conclusion. No pyrotechnics here, but the S.F. locale and cop camaraderie are first-rate. Read full book review >