Fact-checker Frank Cole (Murder in Exile, 2006) joins the hunt for a young man missing from Miami and points north.
Unable to sleep more than a few hours a night, one-time computer-software engineer Frank Cole, who’s settled below the poverty line in Exile, Fla., to avoid having his wages attached, supplements his job checking facts for law firms and private eyes to take a second dead-end gig as night dispatcher for the Midnight Taxi Service. Trouble follows when a young man hails Billy Lee’s cab late one night outside a motel parking lot where cops have surrounded a car whose noisy alarm leads them to the drugs hidden inside. Next morning, Atlanta p.i. Curtis Winslow turns up at the Midnight Cab stand looking for information about Dennis Taylor, Billy Lee’s vanished fare. After checking a few facts, Frank’s able to give him a lot more information than he expected, starting with the news that the fugitive is actually named Dennis Sharp. Soon the chase has been joined by the local law, a sinister pair from Mobile who swear they aren’t bounty hunters, and Sally Hayes, Dennis’s weepy girlfriend. But they’re all going to be out of luck, because Dennis has been shot dead under circumstances that will provide Frank steady work.
O’Neil’s brevity is welcome, but Frank’s second case lacks suspense, deception, variety of incident, memorable characters and even a strong sense of Frank’s presence. Talk about reduced circumstances.