Download to your Kindle (eBook)
Download to your Nook (eBook)
Barnes and Noble NOOKbook
Alan Cook, Mystery and walking writer
Karl Patterson is surprised when his father, founder of a successful software company comes to him for help, and he doesn't realize what he's getting into.
Karl Patterson, sometime baseball card dealer without visible means of support, doesn't get along all that well with his father, even though he lives in the guest house of his dad's estate on the Palos Verdes Peninsula near Los Angeles rent free. So he is surprised when Richard Patterson, who is founder and CEO of a successful software company called Dionysus, asks for his help to determine whether the number 2 man of Dionysus, Ned Mackay, has a gambling problem. Perhaps it's because Karl may or may not be a compulsive gambler, himself, depending on whom you ask. Richard assigns his executive assistant, the exotic and ambitious Arrow, to work with Karl. She appears to have some blood from every ethnic group you can name, and the best of each. She helps Karl connect with Ned, and Karl wangles an invitation to fly with him to San Francisco, which brings up the question of what Ned's relationship is to James Buchanan, a puzzling person who likes puzzles, runs what appears to be an illegal gambling casino, and is CEO of a San Francisco conglomerate that owns a piece of just about everything worth owning. Before Karl can make any progress, Ned is found dead in San Francisco with cocaine in his car. Karl is questioned by the San Francisco police, and now finds himself trying to determine what happened to Ned, and what effect this will have on his father and Dionysus. Questions about James remain, because he seems to want to gain control of Dionysus, and may help Karl buy an expensive baseball card. Events keep Karl involved long after his father wants him out. Before he's through, he'll be a frequent flyer between L.A. and San Francisco, with sidetrips to Scotland and England. He will have to learn how to work with Arrow, get along with Jacie, Richard's young wife, try to improve his relationship with his father, and--if he wants to survive--watch his back.
The cloud I had been running in an hour before had already burned away when I pressed the button to boot my computer. I looked out my north-facing window and saw that the Los Angeles basin below was still covered with its own cotton cloud-blanket that extended over Santa Monica Bay. It made me feel as if I were alone in the world, even though when that cloud lifted I would overlook an area inhabited by several million people.
On a horizontal line from me the Hollywood Hills were particularly sharp this morning. I could make out the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Park planetarium with my "hunter's" eyes. (The disadvantage of having hunter's eyes is that I needed to wear glasses to read and use the computer. Maybe I was born in the wrong age.) More than 50 miles away, more east than north, Mt. Baldy's massive granite peak warmed in the morning sun, and I could even see Mt. San Gorgonio, with its higher and even more massive peak, farther east, almost 100 miles away. Haze would obscure it soon, but there was no sign of brown smog.
My view was the opposite of and better than that from most hillside homes seen in movies, which usually face south from the Hollywood Hills. Palos Verdes Peninsula, which tops out at 1,500 feet above sea level, is a well-kept secret from screenwriters. They must all be near-sighted.
I glanced out of another window, which faces west toward the swimming pool, with my father's castle beyond. (castle: noun. Definition 1.c. A large, ornate building similar to or resembling a fortified stronghold.) To my surprise, the old man himself was striding briskly past the pool toward the guesthouse where I lived. Why was he home at this hour? He was usually in his office in Torrance by seven.
More to the point, why was he coming here? I couldn't remember the last time he had set foot in the guesthouse. When we communicated with each other, which was rarely, it was in the castle. I quickly looked around; I didn't see anything incriminating, except the computer. And there was nothing I could do about that.