To oblige his buddy Ace (a.k.a. Prof. Charles Buffington), who needs one last research paper to support his promotion at the University of Nevada, jazz pianist/shamus Evan Horne agrees to look into the 1955 death of Wardell Gray, a tenor sax player whose stint at the Moulin Rouge, Vegas's first integrated nightclub, was ended by a death so ignominious and obscure--he was found in the desert with a crushed right hand, a nasty head wound, and a bloodstream full of narcotics--that it's not even listed as unsolved on the police blotter. But lots of other people, from Horne's pal Det. Danny Cooper, a detective back in Santa Monica, to mobster Anthony Gallio, don't think it's such a hot idea to stir up Wardell Gray's dust. Soon two new homicides and a series of increasingly pointed threats from Gallio, who's interested for some reason in the Moulin Rouge preservation movement, take the case off the back burner. Horne marks time by making time with Cooper's colleague Natalie Beamer, asking around for realtor Louise Cody's missing daughter, Rachel, and playing stints at the Fashion Show Mall, but he knows it's only a matter of waiting before he comes head to head with Gallio. Lots of modest surprises (and sweet blues) along the way, but don't count on a lightning flash to show what really happened to that tenor man. Moody (Solo Hand, 1994) seems as determined as the bad guys to put Wardell Gray behind him.