A moonlighting director finds his sideline more dangerous than he expected
Alan Bernhardt is just starting rehearsal when his pager goes off. No one in the small San Francisco theater minds—they know that to make it on the stage, you have to be prepared to do all sorts of odd jobs off of it. But this director’s job is odder than most. He works for Herbert Dancer, head of a boutique private investigation service. A corporate secretary has vanished with a sheaf of valuable documents, and it will take an off-Broadway sensibility to bring her home.
Bernhardt is just closing in on the woman and her boyfriend when he learns that she isn’t running for a profit, but for her life. To save her from the men who hired him, Bernhardt must find her and protect her—because his artistic vision does not include blood on his hands.
Wilcox's latest California thriller marks the debut of actor-playwright Alan Bernhardt of San Francisco as a freelance private eye. A rehearsaland his flirtation with new cast member Pamela Brettis interrupted by a message from Hubert Dancer, head of the detective agency that gives the actor outside jobs. Accepting a supposedly brief assignment, Bernhardt leaves town to trace Betty Fields, missing from her post as art consultant to a corporation of venture capitalists. The firm has hired Dancer's agency to find Betty and her lover, Nick Ames, but after doing so and reporting back to Dancer, Bernhardt is outraged to hear that Ames has been stalked and murdered. He breaks with Dancer, going off on his own to find the fugitive again before she also is ``neutralized.'' Betty knows that her life is endangered by the real power behind her corporate employer, reclusive, amoral billionaire Daniel DuBois, who is determined to prevent her from exposing his guilty secrets. When Bernhardt catches up with Betty a second time, the professional killer makes a move that creates the story's stunning climax. This is a remarkably well-handled mystery with strong characters. Readers will want more tales of the thespian and Pamela, his new romantic lead.