Jack Lorentz is the Toyman, a dealer in all sorts of baby boomer collectibles, a former investigative journalist, and here a reluctant investigator. He is a creation of Robert Napier, otherwise known here on the internet as Cap’n Bob. Both live and operate in Tacoma, Washington.
I’ve had the first one for a while now and haven’t read it(ducks while running for cover), so with delivery of RIDES AGAIN, I decided it was time.
LOVE, DEATH, AND THE TOYMAN
Jack Lorentz is visited one day by someone he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, Mandy Howard, his ex-fiance who walked out on him while he was looking at a house. She’s married to a rich man now who’s planning a run for congress and wants someone to investigate a partial skeleton found six months before on family property. While not wanting a whitewash, he wants a perfunctory investigation that won’t allow any potential opponents to use it against him. Declining at first, he’s coerced into taking the job with a bit of legal blackmail.
The Howard family all live together in one big mansion and what a set of characters: two siblings, Dorothy and Howard Chapman, she of split personality, one a refined woman, the other a nymphomaniac, he a slovenly bully, their mother concerned with the purity of the family lines. Mandy’s husband and his brother, competitors all their lives, Mandy herself a study in contradictions.
Lorentz’s investigation turns up dirty linen, as one would figure, but not exactly like one might expect. Murder attempts and beatings follow before he finds the answers he’s hunting in a slam bang finale.
THE TOYMAN RIDES AGAIN
This one takes up shortly after the first. Lorentz’s office is being cleaned up and repainted from the finale of the first book. He decides to take another job to get out while that’s being done.
He’s hired to join a group of reenactors for their annual recreation of Custer’s Last Stand to guard the man playing the role of Custer, Charles Swanson, who has been receiving death threats. He goes in undercover as a reporter that was along with the Seventh Cavalry on that fateful day.
When they are attacked by a band of Native Americans on-motorcycles?- a melee breaks out. Swanson/Custer ends up murdered, a big knife poking out of his chest, a knife known to belong to Native American leader. Though arrested, Lorentz soon comes to believe he’s not the actual murderer and works with a beautiful young woman, Abigail She Stands In Light, to learn the truth. Throw in a couple of more murders, the FBI tailing Lorentz, and a budding relationship with Abigail, it all works to make Lorentz’s job more complicated. Though he hadn’t really wanted the job, he feels bad Swanson was killed and he puts his skills from his reporter days to piece together what really happened.
I quite liked these two mysteries, written in a smoothly flowing style. I look forward to the next one in the series.