A wealthy Manhattan private eye solves the murder of his brother-in-law, a no-account count.
Philip Beckett III solidified his position as the Beckett clan’s black sheep when he walked away from the family’s multimillion-dollar business to become a p.i. His ambitious, disdainful sister Regina was happy to cut him out and pick up the corporate slack. But the shoe’s on the other foot when Regina’s forced to solicit Philip’s help for their sister Audrey, whose philandering husband, Count Sergio D’Alesse, has run up big gambling debts to a slick thug named John Carroll, a.k.a. Gaetano Carollo. After Philip and his new ladylove, beautiful lawyer Maggie, pay a visit to Carroll’s sub rosa Midtown casino, where a camera in her purse captures the substitution of loaded dice, Philip uses the tape to try to leverage Sergio’s financial freedom from Carroll. But before he can pull off this coup, he finds Sergio shot dead in his apartment. Suspicion falls hardest on the Becketts and on Philip in particular, but he continues his rousting of Carroll and his associates at great personal risk. The lively finale takes Philip and Maggie to Spanish Harlem and the fringes of Columbia University.
This leisurely series kickoff from veteran Cray (Partners, 2004, etc.) banks much on the charm of Philip’s first-person narrative, which melds the urbanity of Nero Wolfe with the cheek of Archie Goodwin. A Rex Stout for the 21st century?