Herman Jackson never thought his past would catch up with him, least of all via a murdered Vietnam veteran named Charlie Victor.
Jackson used to run a bookie operation in Detroit, but his bail bond business in St. Paul is much safer. And if Charlie Victor wasn't his best client, he was at least a steady one, paying his bonding fee out of a secret stash he called his frag box.
Then Charlie is beaten to death on a public street in broad daylight. Strangely, he leaves behind a will naming Jackson as his sole heir. Jackson wants justice for Charlie, who had become something of a friend. But with plenty of money problems of his own, he also wants the box of cash.
Unfortunately, Charlie's killers want it, too, and the race is on. Jackson will traverse the dark alleys of St. Paul's Railroad Island, the snowbound Minnesota Iron Range, and finally an abandoned tunnel under St. Paul. But every step reveals another layer of protection and another set of lies Jackson has told, including the ones he told himself...
In Thompson's compelling second mystery to feature St. Paul, Minn., bail bondsman Herman Jackson (after 2008's The Fiddle Game), Jackson investigates the murder of one of his more unusual repeat customers, soul-wounded Charlie Victor, a homeless Vietnam vet. Jackson, to whom Victor bequeathed a mysterious box, immediately receives visits from the FBI, an odd bully who wants to take over Jackson's business and a band of heavily armed mercenaries of unknown origin. When the police appear to lose interest in Victor's case, Jackson enlists the aid of comely Anne Packard, a fearless newspaper reporter. Jackson and Packard follow the scant clues to Victor's past, hoping to solve the brutal killing, uncover a buried secret and separate the good guys, if there are any, from the bad. A dash of romance, plenty of action and an appealing, wise-cracking hero enhance this detective story with an old-fashioned noir flavor.