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n322179I covered the first Touie Moore novel, ROOM TO SWING, a couple of years back. It’s taken me this long to get ahold of and read the second and only other novel to feature the first black private investigator.

Touie Moore finds himself getting pulled back into the private eye business when his wife Fran reveals she’s pregnant. Not sure whether to be pleased or not at this point, he knows his salary at the post office won’t be enough when she has to quit work for the birth of the child. He goes to his old partner asking for some weekend work only to learn the agency has moved up in the world. Now partnered with Kay Robbens and doing industrial investigating, they have just the case for him.

He’s unsure, but the money is good.

They want him to fly down to Mexico and see a woman, an American, who’d requested an investigator from the States. It could lead to work with a chemical company in which she was a primary investor.

The wealthy woman isn’t at all what Touie had imagined. Young, a university professor, she wanted him to prove her husband, a reporter, was murdered by the most popular bullfighter in Mexico. El Indio. He’d been found in his bed, bitten by a poisonous snake.

Things were complicated by the widow being a herpetologist doing research on snake poisons. She had a number in her lab and the police assume one escaped despite her admonitions that none were missing. Her late husband was said to have something that would blow the star matador out of his career.

As Touie begins his investigation, he gets picked up by another black American, Frank Smith, that asks such nosy questions that he wonders if the man is an investigator himself. he also gets word that a white American, a big man, is checking him out, the places he spends money, and he feels he’s being followed, though he can catch no one at it.

And the bodies begin to turn up.

A fine mystery novel by Ed lacy.

For more forgotten books, check out Patti Abbott over at her place, PATTINASE on Fridays.

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