Debut mystery about a Tulsa p.i. who must unravel an elaborate insurance fraud before an unknown enemy unravels his life.
A secret meeting with long-time informant Jimmy Jay, a.k.a. “The Blue Jay,” surprisingly turns into a shootout for insurance investigator Carl Jacobs (C.J. to clients), who takes a bullet before shooting Jimmy dead in self-defense. Neither Carl nor his wife Sherry, who works for the insurance company that contracts him, can come up with a plausible motive for Jimmy’s apparent ambush. Tulsa police, headed by gruff Detective Fry, are concerned that Carl’s close call is related to the killing of Foster, another p.i. whose death is being investigated by hulking, gentle Detective Sweet from nearby Broken Arrow. Both cops are skeptical of Carl’s strenuous denials that he’s withholding information. During the surveillance of probable insurance-claim faker Dennis Holloway, the body count rises to three when Holloway is killed by an unseen assailant with a .22, the same caliber gun that shot Carl earlier. A handful of leads turns up more corpses and more attempts on Carl’s life before a stolen wheelchair puts him on the twisted path to a solution.
The prose could be livelier, but Carl’s measured first-person narrative is packed with interesting details about investigative work and about his home life with Sherry and their young daughters: a refreshing rarity in the genre.