Targeted by thugs, a wrestling impresario reaches out to an old friend
When Otto Lidke got a tryout in pro football, he hired a lawyer friend named Jim Raiford to handle his contract. The negotiations were bungled, forcing both men into a career change. Trying to start a pro wrestling circuit in Denver, Lidke runs afoul of the national federation, which does everything it can—legal and otherwise—to stamp out his new venture. When shady business practices escalate into threats on his life, Lidke calls on Raiford, now a private investigator, to dig up some dirt on the men who are trying to put him out of business.
But instead he gets Raiford’s daughter, Julie—a whip-smart sleuth looking to prove she’s every bit as savvy as her father. As Julie and her dad dig into the vicious world of small-time wrestling, they find that though the fights may be fixed, the danger is all too real.
Edgar winner Burns's third detective series, a spin-off from his Gabe Wager books (The Alvarez Journal, etc.), gets off to a solid start with this no-nonsense PI novel. The leads are Denver-based father-daughter PI team of Jim Raiford and Julie Campbell, and their case is an interesting one. When his wife died, Raiford, an attorney, lost his focus, and messed up a contract for a client, football player Otto Lidke, and was sued for malfeasance. He left the law, and eventually started a detective agency; Lidke reenters his life when the football player hires the Touchstone Agency to track down the person standing in the way of his new venture to start a regional pro wrestling federation. Lidke has his suspicions he believes Sid Chertok, the local front man for a national wrestling group, is responsible for his inability to book events anywhere in the area. The case quickly turns violent, which gets Denver PD's Wager involved, but Raiford and Campbell have trouble confirming Lidke's beliefs. Well-developed main characters are a plus.