New England police officer Colt’s first novel is a boozy pipe dream of a private eye’s search for a long-missing father during a period the narrator guilelessly describes as “a couple of years into [Reagan’s] first term.”
Geoffrey Swift, scion of the San Francisco Swift Aeronautical juggernaut, has a serious shot at becoming the first Republican senator from the Bay Area in years. So naturally Deborah Swift doesn’t want anything to stand in her husband’s gilded way. A serious potential obstacle is her father, Charles Edgar Hammond, a Korean War vet who stepped out for a pack of cigarettes while Deborah was still a child and never came back. Since the Army had Hammond’s fingerprints on file, it’s not likely that he died unidentified, but it’s impossible to say what scandals may be lurking beneath his disappearance. Deborah’s already hired the Pinkerton agency to investigate his last known whereabouts on Cape Cod, but the locals, true to New England form, have been standoffish toward the agency operatives, who’ve generated reams of paperwork but precious few leads. So Deborah asks Harvard-educated Boston attorney Danny Sullivan to recommend somebody local and flies Danny’s best friend, Andy Roark, from coast to coast for a brief one-on-one and an infusion of cash. Back in Massachusetts, Andy zeroes in on Hyannis, where several veterans’ benefits checks were sent to Hammond in 1968, and Nantucket, where his trail seems to lead. Throughout it all, Colt conscientiously supplies the obligatory complications of the hard-boiled formula—sexual come-ons, gunplay, mob figures, betrayals—but in slow motion. It’s no wonder that Andy muses to his old friend: “This is a puzzle, almost a mystery.” Yep, almost.
Not much incident but lots of attitude.