ONE ENDLESS HOUR is the follow-up to THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH and overlaps that book with the prologue being the last chapter of the first. We find our hero, the man known as Chet Arnold, Earl Drake, and many other aliases locked in a prison hospital, major burns over his body, the result of an exploding gas tank in the crash while fleeing police. He’s been here for months now, pretending catatonia, and hoping for some kind of break so he could escape.
The early part of the book finds him plotting escape, needing plastic surgery to fix his face. He’d been pretending catatonia and officials thought it might help him come out. The prison doctor is from Pakistan, is a plastic surgeon serving an apprentice before getting an American medical license. Drake wants the deluxe package, but the doctor is not easily subverted when Drake promises twenty thousand down, another like amount upon completion. But the location and retrieval of a cache he’d hidden gets the down payment and another fifteen in Drake’s hands.
The surgeries and healing play out over close to a year. Drake is scheming an escape the whole time. One of the guards hates him for what he did to the deputy sheriff in the first book, four bullets, and wants revenge. He’s also crooked as a three dollar bill. With most of the money hidden, he places ten hundreds in his hand and promises more after he helps him escape.
Drake knows a double-cross is planned, but if he can’t outsmart a dumb guard and his even dumber cohort…
He heads to the small town in Florida where he’d hidden the stash he’d went down to find when his partner stopped sending money(it’s all chronicled in the first book), only to discover the deputy, now former, had survived and waited with a real deputy. The money had been found. The two are left dead and the money gone, he not knowing where the man had hid it.
Alone, on the run, with only about six thousand, a face full of healing scars, he finds a wig maker, who shows him how to fix it, how to do make-up to cover the healing scars, and something else he hadn’t indulged in in over a year now. He departed, realizing he didn’t even know her name.
An old hideaway for folks like him, run by a blind man, who kept him in groceries for a couple of months.
Money was getting low and Earl needed a new infusion fast. He was loathe to reveal his new face and put an old name to it, so he was reduced to impressing people anew and going to a man known as The Schemer who provided a detailed plan for a heist, one he’d been holding back until the right leader came along. It was a three man job and a list of available men was included. Drake knew only one of them, Preacher, a reliable man, though he had a gambling problem. He ended up selecting a man who made “nudie” films and financed them with these jobs.
The rest of the book is the planning, set-up, and, of course, the things that always go wrong with these types of jobs.
In many ways, Drake is as ruthless as Parker, though later novels in the series tone him down, eventually making him a spy for the government(not read any of those yet).
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