Design Image, 2001, 15.95, 307 pp.
During the early days of the Clinton Administration, Rockford, Illinois widow Lorna Stark suffers conscience tremors over a murder case. She hires private investigator Joe Hannibal to prove that Billy Lawton is not guilty of killing Viet Nam war hero and popular businessman Aaron Broderick. Lorna admits that at the time of the murder, she was having sex with Billy in a Lake Crescent, Wisconsin motel. She prefers to avoid the humiliating publicity, but agrees to step forward if Joe fails to prove Billy could not have committed the crime. However Billy not only confessed, he voluntarily surrendered to the police before a crime was reported, which, Joe asks, if he did not do it how did he know?
Joe learns from Billy's court appointed lawyer that anyone helping the confessor could face consequences from an angry community, but the sleuth makes inquiries anyway. Though Billy refuses to see him, Joe believes someone is either coercing a confession or he is covering the tracks of the real killer, but to prove it without his client being raked over the coals appears hopeless.
AND FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP is a fine private investigative tale that is superb when Joe runs up against barriers while making tiny progress. When the case turns into a life and death thriller, fans will appreciate Wayne D. Dundee's talent, but also feel that a classic style open and shut mystery hit a detour. Joe is fun as he is hard-boiled yet salivates over the women involved in his investigation. Though probably difficult to find, genre fans will want to seek out other works by Mr. Dundee.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner