George Moran is an ex-Marine who saw action in LBJ’s intervention in the Dominican Republic uprising in 1965. Captured and wounded, he nonetheless met a girl among the rebels named Luci. Moran has always wondered what happened to her. So, in 1981, now the owner of a beachfront hotel in Miami, returns to Santo Domingo to find out what happened to her.
This is not the story Leonard wants to tell. No, he wants to talk about the affair between Moran and Mary de Boya. Mary’s husband is Florida real estate developer Andres de Boya. Andres de Boya is also a former general in the old regime, long since overthrown. But Moran’s search for Luci and hooking up with de Boya’s wife puts Moran in the middle of sharks circling Andres. Why?
The former general keeps $2 million in cash literally under his bed.
The first shark is a shady con artist who claims to be able to find Luci. When he can’t, he hires a hooker to accompany him to Miami, all part of a plan to lure Moran into an “investment opportunity.” Then there is Jiggs Scully, a “consultant” who works for Andres. More importantly, Scully works for himself. But the most surprising is Nolen Tyner, the washed-up actor who is now either a full-time PI or a full-time alcoholic. Tyner either is part of the scheme or is lured into it by Scully. After all, a ready $2 million is a powerful incentive. Moran cares nothing about this. He wants Mary to leave Andres, something she wants to do “properly.”
The typical Leonard misfits are here. Moran is too sympathetic for his own good. Scully is too clever. Tyner thinks one big score will keep him swimming in booze for the rest of his life. Mary can’t make the leap. And Andres? Andres reminisces on how stupid some of his superiors were only to find themselves shot. Never mind that Andres himself makes many of those same mistakes.
This was a lot of fun to read, not nearly as dark as the Karen Sisco books. It could be a Tarantino film, which isn’t unheard of. Jackie Brown was based on Leonard’s Rum Punch.
Oh, and Luci? She surfaces. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.