San Francisco private eye Nick Polo finds that there's more than one wild card in the deck when a high-stakes poker game pushes him into the investigation of some stolen paintings. Soon Polo is in an alphabet soup of law enforcement agencies: FBI, SFPD, even Interpol, as he tries to track down the artwork for its owner, financier Claude Martel.
Complicating matters are Mattel's oversexed wife, his vindictive daughter, a resentful son, and a crooked private detective. Polo's job becomes more than just pleasing a client; he must recover the painting for the sake of his own skin. But can he do it before his luck runs out?
Kennealy's series about San Francisco private eye Nick Polo (this is the fifth), while pretty standard stuff, clearly benefits from the author's experiences as a practicing PI. Polo attends a $500-a-plate charity dinner with his girlfriend (they have an ``understanding,'' thus allowing him to pop guilt-free into a few other beds as the story unfolds) to gain a seat in a high-stakes poker game held during the event. Several valuable paintings are stolen that night, and Polo is hired to recover them by wealthy art collector Claude Martel who, somewhat light-fingered himself, had grabbed the paintings when he was part of a special World War II OSS team established to recover works of art snatched by the Germans. Polo's own record as an ex-con creates the expected confusion, complicated further by an unsavory competing private eye, Martel's over-sexed wife and daughter, a tough Texas banker and a mysterious Interpol agent. Few surprises here, but Kennealy's hands-on knowlege of an investigator's techniques adds verisimilitude and interest.