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Barry S. Willdorf

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A Shot In The Arm
by Barry S. Willdorf   

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Books by Barry S. Willdorf
· Burning Questions
· The Flight of the Sorceress
                >> View all



Publisher:  Whiskey Creek Press ISBN-10:  1611602564 Type: 


Copyright:  April 1, 2012 ISBN-13:  9781611602562

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Barnes &
A Gauche Press
1970s Trilogy

After attorney Nate Lewis takes the case of a black militant accused of homicide, he learns that he's been paid with cash stolen from government agents involved in using drug money to buy guns for anti-communist guerrillas. And they want it back!

"A Shot In The Arm" is a new mystery/thriller by San Francisco trial attorney, Barry S. Willdorf, that takes the reader to the San Francisco/Marin County of the early 1970s.


When a pretty young addict is found dead in her bed from an overdose, her treatment counselor, a black militant, is charged with providing her with drugs for sex. Nate Lewis is paid to defend him but learns too late that his retainer was stolen from rogue government agents involved in dealing drugs to buy guns for anti-communist guerrillas.


Travel back in time to visit a Bay Area rarely portrayed in today's literature. Peruse the menu at the Trident Restaurant on the Sausalito waterfront. Slide seamlessly among the old, waterlogged houseboats that lined the shore. Mingle with Vietnam era soldiers and sailors, black militants and hippies. Score drugs on practically every street corner. Stroll the Fillmore district before it was gentrified. Witness a car chase over the dirt roads that once crisscrossed Bernal Hill. Sneak into the City’s shipyards and foundries when they still bustled with activity. Spend time at the Hamilton Air Force Base officer's club. Sip Java where longshoremen once prowled. Attend court at Frank Lloyd Wright’s leaky Marin County Civic Center.


Twenty thousand dollars was a hell of a lot of dough back in 1973, especially if it came in cash and you didn’t mention it to the tax man. In many nice parts of San Francisco, you could get three bedrooms, a view of downtown, and have some bread left over. Scuttlebutt told me that twenty Gs was the standard retainer for someone looking at a murder rap, so that was how much I quoted Umoja Simama.

I was running a shoestring law practice in the Mission at the time. One of his lieutenants, Oso Pardo, showed up at my office with a silvery metal briefcase, snapped it open and dumped packets of bills—a year’s supply of cash—all over my desk. I’d hoped that by asking for that kind of money, Umoja would go looking for another mouthpiece. I wanted out, especially for the sake of my relationship with Christina. But as fate had it, Umoja was unaccountably flush at just that moment.

You see dough like that, you get greedy. Your mind gets addled. So I ignored my better judgment and the advice of everyone around me. I took the money in denial that I was making a Faustian bargain by accepting the loot.
“You gonna count it, man?” Oso Pardo asked.

“I don’t need to steenking count it,” I replied, pretending it was a scene from a post-modern version of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Oso Pardo removed his sunglasses and glared at me with red-streaked eyes. His swarthy complexion darkened. His hands balled into fists. His chest expanded to reveal a telltale bulge under his sweatshirt and I became instantly hot. Did he think I was mocking his accent? If it wasn’t for me being Umoja’s “main man” and if Oso Pardo wasn’t his “bro,” things might have gone sour right there.

“It was a joke,” I said and shrugged, my voice cracking. “From the movie. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. With Humphrey Bogart.”

He scowled. He still didn’t get it, but recognized it was a joke. His tension dissipated.

I stared at the banded stacks of bills between us. My fingers tapped nervously on the desk. “I’ll count them,” I said, making little piles for each thousand. “ Yep. Twenty . Want a receipt?”

Oso Pardo shook his head. “We work on trust, brother.”

I managed a smile, wondering what happened when there wasn’t any trust. He snapped the briefcase closed and dropped his shades back on the bridge of his broad nose. “You need any security?” He patted the lump beneath his sweatshirt.

I scanned the street through the plate glass windows that took up the larger portions of two office walls. “Don’t think so.”

After he was gone, I packed the loot into a worn leather bag that Emile Taub had made for me in his prison handicrafts class—“The balance of your fee,” as he put it. I hadn’t the heart to tell Emile that it looked like something an eight-year old had made at summer camp. But I had it, so I used it. Five minutes later, I was on my way to Liberty Bank, a hole-in-the wall on Mission Street that was so small, the manager knew my name.

I liked doing business with Liberty and get nostalgic thinking about it. It ceased to exist only a few years later, but at the time, it was one of a number of neighborhood banks. I made a small deposit and opened a checking account after seeing the free safe deposit box inducement in their window. The box remained empty until this unexpected influx of cash filled it.

I soon discovered how bad the bargain was for me. Twenty grand in cash isn’t easy to spend when you don’t want the IRS to know you have it. They’d just begun a crack- down on defense lawyers. Not long after I came into possession of my burden, a drug lawyer I knew got nine months in the pokey after he couldn’t explain how he bought his new Benz. And he wasn’t the only one with such problems. So my plan was, every month I’d draw out a few hundred and put that sum on the books for Umoja. In every way, the twenty big ones quickly became more of a curse than a blessing.

Professional Reviews

A Shot In The Arm
"A Shot in the Arm" by Barry Willdorf was really a good read. It kept me on the edge of my seat through most of the read. Indeed you can tell that Mr. Willdorf that he had some lawyer background due to all details that he gave us on this great ride. "Shot in the Arm" was a story of how a lawyer (Nathan Lewis) from San Francisco trying to do what was right had many obstacles put in his way. Nate (who was a lawyer) had taken a case involving Umoja Simama, a Black Militant charged with homicide in Marin County. Nate's girlfriend Christina did not want him to take cases such as these because they were involved the drug dealer, dirty money, and the Mob. Christina just wanted to finish her education, get a good job and get married. Would she ever get this? Nate wanted to get his name out there so he could have it all...good job and Christina...who was the love of his life. I really liked the way Mr Wildorf presented the characters because they really made the novel ... to name a few: Nate, Christina, Diz, Umoja(Amos Decker), Joan Deering, Moe Weiner, Willie Jackson, Sheila Mc Givern(Susan Bass)Inspector Hudson, Oso Pardo, Mato, Tiny Tim, Alex Estrada, Waseme, Connie Hawkins, Hamid, Samira, Aaron Carter, Jim Davis, Granma Carter, and Steve Bass. I am sure I left out some....You will just have to read and find out who for yourself! The question is how will Nate and Christiana be able to solve there problems.... maybe by "Negotiation?" And with the negotiation would Nate and Christina finally have the life they wanted?

"A Shot in the Arm" was really interesting and surprising in how this novel played out. I loved it! It was well written and I would definitely recommend "Shot in the Arm" as a good read.

A Shot In The Arm
In A Shot in the Arm, Barry Willdorf once more writes up a storm. Just as in the previous installment, Burning Questions, attorney Nate Lewis bumbles his way into a dark murder plot, but it's the reader who gets hooked. Willdorf’s re-creation of period is right on the money, and his characters rock. His trilogy is a brilliant creation! I wasn't able to put the book down.

A Shot In the Arm
Barry Willdorf knows the lawyer's brain and feels the City's heart, producing a non-stop thrill-ride through San Francisco in the early 70s as a "people's lawyer" and his waitress girlfriend try to escape a web of smack, shady rehab, covert operations and murder. Gripping. Exciting. Add "A Shot in the Arm" to the classic tales of the City by the Bay.

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