She was perfect. She smelled of toothpaste, talc, and something sweeter than lilacs. And in that crazy season of autumn, when Cincinnati was ablaze in the blood-red color of fall, Kate Davis made Harry Stoner feel old, and a little in love too. But for Harry Stoner those were only two more reasons that Kate shouldn't have anything more to do with this case. Because what had started with a twisted act of vandalism in the local library had led Kate and Harry, paired together, on a twisting path to a brutal, unsolved murder.
"Good Mystery, Good Narrator"
Stoner is a private eye in the classic tradition: A loner with a history of failed relationships with women and all-too-successful relationships with bottles of scotch, he's unable to look away from the world's corruption, and unable to avoid trying futilely to do something about it. His latest hopeless cause is Cindy Ann, a teenage hooker. She's not very pretty or bright or engaging. She doesn’t have much to offer at all, in fact, and somehow that makes her disappearance all the more disturbing for Stoner.
Cincinnati Cougars' Billy Parks was All-Pro…and he's missing. Harry Stoner's job was to find him and get him into shape for the season. But Billy's photo told Stoner he didn't like the man…or the shape he was in. The eye revealed a killer mentality - a player who crushed, mangled, and sacked with pleasure. Billy's disappearing act might be part of a contract dispute or something far more deadly. For Stoner suspected that Billy had become a mean machine who went on scoring in a sordid world of drugs and violence, where death hit with a blindside tackle…and life lasted only until the final cut.
The professor was an eccentric old bird, and his daughter was a delicate flower. So how could Harry Stoner suspect the snake pit of hatred and greed he was walking into that winter day when he agreed to find a missing document for Professor Daryl Lovingwell?
Detective Harry Stoner has seen too much of the seamy side of life not to notice the tarnish on Los Angeles's glitter or the gritty reality behind the never-never land of TV's biggest daytime soaps. A detergent manufacturer, already begrimed by scandal and rumor, doesn't want his image further muddied by the mysterious death of the head writer on the daytime series he sponsors. So it's up to Stoner to find out what really happened that sunny August weekend when Quentin Dover took his last shower.
A phone ringing after midnight means trouble, especially in private eye Harry Stoner's business. This time the 1:30 call is trouble, all right. A motel clerk wants somebody to pick up the loser registered as Harry Stoner who just tried to kill himself. When the real Stoner gets to the Encantada Motel, he finds his old college roommate nearly dead and too many memories still alive.
"Pretty darn good"
Sheltered but precocious Robbie Segal has run away from home, a small brick house on an unexceptional street. Her desperate mother has asked Harry Stoner to find her. What begins as an ordinary missing-persons case, a case that should be settled without any violence at all, suddenly changes in an impossibly terrifying way.
Clients never tell the whole story. Harry Stoner had taken a snowy drive to Cincinnati psychiatrist Phil Pearson’s mansion to hear the tale of daughter Kirsten - emotionally disturbed and missing. But the doctor left out the parts about his first wife’s suicide and his second wife’s bedroom eyes that were already chasing the winter cold from Stoner’s blood. That’s why Stoner suspected the search for Kirsten could take a kinky turn.
Mason Greenleaf - good teacher, good friend, fond lover - vanishes from his Mount Adams home one hot summer afternoon, leaving a haunting mystery behind him. For his fellow teachers, former students, and friends, his disappearance is inexplicable and tragic. For his lover, Cindy Dorn, it is a cruel blow that shakes the very foundations of her world. She calls Harry Stoner for help. Soon after, Greenleaf turns up dead in a sleazy hotel. The police call it a suicide - Stoner believes there's more to the story. As Stoner delves into the apparent suicide, disturbing questions surface about Greenleaf's past, questions about his sexual life.
Detective Harry Stoner has seen better days. It's the middle of January and business is slower than a crawl. Curled up in his office with a paperback mystery, a little classical music on the radio, and a bottle of Scotch, Harry's ready to cut his losses and hibernate until spring. The only problem is that Harry's been living off Visa credit and Christmas cash, and the money faucet is beginning to run dry. Enter Leon Tubin, an odd little man with worn trousers but a pocketful of cash.
To P.I. Harry Stoner, Ira Lessing had everything to live for: money, a beautiful wife, good friends, and a reputation that would do credit to a saint. But Lessing disappeared one hot July night, and Stoner knew in his gut that the man was dead. Years on the street had taught Stoner that no man is what he seems. Peeling away layers to the bone would reveal what had become of Lessing. It would lead Stoner into the underbelly of Cincinnati...into the places where desire and violence meet...into the darkest byways of the human heart where his own values would be tested to the bloody limit. By acts of love...and murder.