When we last saw Nick Kepler, he’d just (Spoiler alert!) forced the widow of a child molester to sign over her million-dollar life insurance pay-off to her husband’s victim. This time, he’s going on vacation.
Or so he thinks. What really happens is he attends an engagement party for Jackie Bouchaine, the law student who helped him out in Northcoast Shakedown. There, he picks up one of the guests, a beautiful Russian girl who calls herself Valeria. Still thinking more with his dick than his brain, he takes her home and makes her breakfast the next morning only to find himself hired by her to find a missing limousine. So much for his vacation.
Nick is older in this one, but not necessarily wiser. He still lets dangerous women lead him on, and the only one he seems able to resist is his secretary Elaine, and that’s getting more questionable by the minute.
I’ve still got Nick on the calendar with Second Hand Goods. It’s July of 2003 in this one, and there are references consistent with that. The book was originally completed in 2004, so it was a no-brainer. I’ve toyed with putting Nick on a floating time frame, like Marlowe was. One writer vehemently demanded I not only do this, but keep him ageless, so he would be perpetually 35 or 36. I don’t like that. Nick needs to age, needs to change. I need to send him to hell in a bucket. You don’t do that staying forever young.
But the floating timeline has a certain appeal. I don’t have to back-project technology or politics or the condition of the city of Cleveland to 2004 or 2005 with the two books in the pipeline. Still, I have no idea whether to drop him from the calendar. Part of this is because Hurricane Katrina provides some very good possibilities for Nick to leave town mid-series.