Private eye Toby Peters, who’s been pushing 50 since 1977, is finally showing his age. So when he gets cold-cocked while trying to exchange a bag full of cash for an envelope full of documents in Elysian Park after dark, even his long-suffering girlfriend Anita suggests that maybe this time he ought to leave it alone—though, with a dozen stitches, he got off easier than Bruno Volkman, the document guy, who landed in the morgue. But Peter’s client, Cary Grant, is so charming that he can’t leave it alone. So in spite of warnings from the LAPD, the FBI, and a Brooklyn-born psychic named Juanita, he continues to poke into Volkman’s shady past, finding brochures in his apartment that send him to a radio shop and the drama department of a local college and tracking down the mysterious “George Hall”—the last words to pass Volkman’s lips. Fortified by a hearty breakfast of his landlady’s signature Trout Plaut (sautéed with peanut butter), he manages to get himself kidnapped and roughed up a bit more while uncovering some decidedly anti-American covert activity. But it sends him literally over the edge when the bad guys snatch his officemate Sheldon Minck and his indispensable secretary Violet.
The latest in prolific Kaminsky’s Toby Peters series is a mild-mannered thriller—peril but no real mystery—that seems to be marking time between his last zany adventure (A Few Minutes Past Midnight, 2001) and the next.