Alan Bernhardt is just starting rehearsal when his pager goes off. No one in the small San Francisco theater minds - they know that to make it on the stage, you have to be prepared to do all sorts of odd jobs off of it. But this director’s job is odder than most. He works for Herbert Dancer, head of a boutique private investigation service. A corporate secretary has vanished with a sheaf of valuable documents, and it will take an off-Broadway sensibility to bring her home.
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Alan Bernhardt is a theater director in San Francisco who pays his rent with the odd bit of private detective work. Searching for the man who strangled Connie, his biggest obstacle isn't Dennis but John - the dead woman's seven-year-old son. He may have witnessed something crucial on the night of the murder, but this sensitive child is too frightened to speak. Coaxing words out of John will be the toughest assignment of Alan's directing career, but not half as hard as keeping the boy alive.
Diane Cutler is half drunk and half stoned when she sees her stepfather carrying the body out of the house. She and her boyfriend look on, horrified, as real estate tycoon Preston Daniels loads his dead mistress into the car. Unable to resist their curiosity, they follow him and watch as he dumps the poor woman's body in the rocks and sand of the Cape Cod landfill.
To honor a dying don's last wish, a mob lieutenant searches for hidden diamonds. After seven years ruling his empire from prison, Don Carlo remains as powerful as ever, but his heart is beginning to fail. On the verge of death, he begs his right-hand man, Bacardo, to look after his family. Not his wife and children, the don explains, but Louise and Angela - his daughter and granddaughter from a beloved mistress who died long ago.
A dying art collector asks Bernhardt to revisit him in his darkest hour. The first time Betty Giles went missing, her employers wanted her dead. They hired Alan Bernhardt, theater director and sometimes PI, to find her, but when he discovered their scheme, he drew a sawed-off shotgun to save her life. Now Betty's missing again, hiding somewhere in Europe, and her old bosses want her found. Will Bernhardt deliver her to the man who once tried to have her killed?