Why shouldn’t a private cop with time on his hands hang out the “Gone Fishing” sign? Because he might get hooked.
“The trout…[are] biting like mosquitoes,” Judge Peter Rifkin tells Chicago PI Joe Kozmarski. The invitation is wrapped around the promise of a $15,000 fee. The man who extends it is no stranger to Joe, who has at least two reasons not to trust him. One, the judge is actually an ex-judge who’s been booted from the bench for unmagisterial behavior. Two, there are old unsettled scores between them stemming from more personal betrayals. Still, Joe tells himself, 15 large “would pay for a lot of Band-Aids.” He gobbles the bait but soon wishes he hadn’t. As usual, the former justice is mixed up in more than his share of nefarious activities. In part, these involve a gorgeous Vietnamese woman, no better than she should be, who likes taking her clothes off in front of a camera and whose trigger-happy brothers prefer vengeance to common sense any day of the week. When Le Thi Hanh meets a predictable fate, her siblings, for not totally convincing reasons, go after Joe. The obligatory bumps and bruises follow, as do murders, and eventually a solution of sorts.
Not much new in this debut, this year’s PWA/SMP Best First Private Eye Novel, but Wiley does speak fairly fluent Chandler.