Dunne, May 2004, 23.95, 336 pp.
Two years ago, then San Jose Sentinel reporter Linda Maldonado worked with private investigator Allen Choice on a case (see UNDERKILL). They became lovers, but eventually she ended their romance without explanation. Saddened he moved on professionally and personally.
Linda comes to Oakland where Allen is a partner in Baxter & Choice, a private investigation firm because her niece has been abducted by her nasty abusive father. She wants to hire Allen to rescue nine-year-old Nora from Frank Staunton, who snatched the child because he loathes his former wife and will do anything to hurt her. Allen's current girlfriend Serena Yew would prefer he not accept the case because of his previous affair with the client that he may not have gotten over. Allen himself knows how dangerous the rescue would be as the target is mean and cruel, but a pussy cat next to the guy's killing machine brother. Though facing Hobson's choice, Allen accepts the challenge in which law enforcement at all levels have failed.
FADE TO CLEAR is a terrific private investigative urban noir story starring a delightful protagonist, who is a hodgepodge of conflicting emotions that make him endearing to the audience.The story line is action-packed yet at times quite humorous as the bewildered Allen often leads with his chin in spots that could prove deadly when the case turns out even more dangerous than dealing with the lunatic Staunton siblings.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner