EAST OF A(1999)
LOSERS LIVE LONGER(2009)
Payton Sherwood had just got back to New York after a few weeks away testifying at a trial. It was very late, early in the morning, and he meeded a few things from the neighborhood market. When he walked down, finding it closed, he looked for another. On the way home, he stumbles across three bruisers attacking a young street kid and wades in armed only with a gallon of milk.
It nets him a terrible beating, the kid escaping. Lying there bloodied and half out of it, he sees the kid, a girl he now sees, crawl out from under a nearby car and approach. Instead of helping, she takes his Rolex(that he’d gotten instead of cash for a case).
The next morning, after getting home, sleeping, then a long shower, Payton returns to the scene looking for clues, he finds a battered beeper under the car she’d hid and that sets him on the trail to finding his watch.
He calls an old friend, head of a big agency he’d quit to go solo, to trace the numbers on the beeper. Though reluctant, his friend does, all the while trying to get him to take work, the life of a lone operator being filled with second “final” notices on most of his bills.
The trail leads him to one dead body and Payton’s first clue that things may not be as simple as finding the young girl. She’s in some kind of trouble and he can’t let things go. More bodies pile up, he runs into his favorite trio again and again, and even when he gets the watch back, he can’t stop until a few more bodies show up while he’s solving the mystery.
In Losers Live Longer, things have gotten worse. Payton lives in his office now with only minimal furniture.
He’s half asleep when he hears a knocking on the door downstairs. Ignoring it, he wants to do the same when the phone starts ringing a few minutes later, only lunging for it when the voice going into the answering machine identifies himself as George Rowell, “Owl,” a legendary P.I. that he’d thought might be dead by now. In his eighties, he says he’s across the street on a pay phone and wants to hire him for a special job.
Inviting him up to talk about it, Payton is just starting to get alarmed about what’s taking him so long to cross the street when he hears brakes squeal and a thud. Rushing down, he finds Rowell dead and does a quick frisk, finding a few scraps of paper and a hotel key card.
“Owl’s” death looks suspicious. What had he been doing in those long minutes Payton had been waiting? What had he wanted to hire him on? He didn’t know the man well. There were other investigators in New York he knew much better.
The questions set off a case involving Russian mobsters, pedophiles, a missing financier that had been indited on one of those Ponzi schemes, and, as always, people start dying as he gets close. A smart aleck kid on a skate board keeps showing up too much for it to be a coincidence. Payton gets beat on several times(the life of a PI can be hard).
The back history changes a bit in this one. Here he was fired from the agency, forcing him to go solo, and his mentor and he hadn’t spoken in five years.
I liked these two books and would hope we get another before another ten years go by. The Hard Case Crime cover has a different orientation as you see below.