Murdock for Hire by Robert J. Ray: Bondage and Blackmail in LA

In Murdock for Hire ($13.95, 232 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-883-4), the second book in Robert J. Ray’s Matt Murdock Mysteries Series, the hardboiled but softhearted detective investigates a complicated scheme involving gorgeous call girls, high-grade cocaine, and some kinks à la 50 Shades of Grey. Murdock for Hire was originally published in 1987.

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“The writing is clear and direct, there is plenty of action, and even a romance.”

The New York Times Book Review

“The Robert Ray talent unfolds with every book and Matt Murdock becomes more and more likable and his friends more lovable.”

Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

When software mogul Eddie Hennessy dies of a heart attack, there’s no reason to suspect foul play … except that the family man was in bed with a masked call-girl and snorting cocaine at the time. And that the death scene closely resembles that of two other recently deceased executives.

Eddie co-owned a boat with ex-cop and private-eye Matt Murdock. If Murdock can help out the widow by finding Eddie’s missing coin collection, maybe he won’t have to sell the boat.

Murdock’s investigation leads him to Lido Enterprises, operated out of the magnificent white stone Hotel Bougaineville. For a hefty chunk of change, upscale ladies of the night dally with stressed out businessmen, initiate them into the pleasures of bondage and high-grade cocaine and then hold their reputations for ransom.

Can Murdock infiltrate their inner sanctum and break their hold on Newport Beach’s corporate class? Sure, but not without stirring up a hornets’ nest that threatens to take out both Murdock and his shady lady love.

Click here to read more about the Matt Murdock Murder Mysteries.

ROBERT J. RAY is the author of seven other novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, The Hitman Cometh, Dial “M” for Murdock, Murdock Cracks Ice, and Merry Christmas, Murdock. A sixth Matt Murdock mystery—Murdock Tackles Taos—in in process. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing on his blog. A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle.

Murdock for Hire is available on BN.com and in Kindle and 5×8 paperback on Amazon.com, the European Amazons and Amazon Japan. Bookstores can order wholesale from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and by contacting info@camelpress.com. E-books in every format can be purchased from most major e-book retailers.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Going up the narrow stairs, I thought again of that look that had passed between him and Sally Anne. We were back on deck, hauling canvas, when I asked him. “What do you think of Midge’s friend?”

“Never trust a woman in dark glasses.” Tommy handled the wheel with an expert touch. “Too much like a mask.”

As we passed Bay Isle, Midge left the bow and came back to join us. Midge’s smile was bright, perky, and full of push as she jabbed me in the ribs. “My chair’s empty, Heathcliff. Why don’t you fill it?”

“Tough act to follow, Midge.”

“Oh, you men! Go on!” Midge pushed me a couple of steps toward Sally Anne. “Earn your Heineken.”

I walked forward. Sally Anne had left the chair and was now sitting, feet together, on a boat cushion on the deck, peering westward through the dark glasses. The sun hovered carefully against the sky. I said hello. She said hello. I said, “Nice evening.” She agreed. I asked her how long she had known Midge. “A couple of weeks,” she said. I asked her what exercises she did. “Abdomen,” she said. And legs and hips and arms.

She was in good shape. “Are you a TV actress?”

Flicker of a smile. “No, I’m not. But thank you.”

Cooling to my task, I asked a couple more questions. Where did she work? At a decorating firm in Newport Beach. Did she like it? It paid the bills. Her mechanical answers got shorter and shorter. She didn’t ask me any questions. I got the feeling she was on vacation from being whoever she was when she was on shore.

When we passed by the breakwater of West Jetty and hit the Pacific, where the waves were bigger, Laredo II started to buck and roll. It was almost six and we had about an hour before the breeze died. Captain Tommy instructed me about setting the sails. For five or six minutes, Midge and I were busy shuffling canvas. When we were running smooth again, heading toward Hawaii, Midge asked me how it had gone with her friend.

“I have this feeling she’d rather be someplace else.”

“She has seemed a little blue today. Maybe something happened at work.”

“Maybe she wants to buy Hennessy’s half of the boat.”

Midge nodded absently, then moved past me to take over the steering while Tommy went below to use the head.

It was cooler now, racing west. I pulled on a shirt, went forward as the Laredo II heeled over. “Hang on,” I warned Sally Anne.

Midge stood at the wheel, legs spread for balance. She’d put on yellow driving glasses.

Tommy hadn’t been gone a minute when a big boat appeared, driving at top speed, coming up on us fast. I called a warning to Midge.

“I see it!”

“We’re in the way!” I yelled.

“It’s our right of way, Heathcliff!”

“What is it?” Sally Anne was on her feet, close to the rail.

Midge cranked the wheel. The Laredo altered course and tilted suddenly. Waves slapped the hull. I had to grab a line to keep from falling as I yelled down the stairs for Tommy.

“Tommy! On deck! On the double!”

“What’s up?”

“Maneuver time!”

“Lower some canvas!”

The big boat had seen us and was turning, but Midge was still overreacting, spinning the wheel. A klaxon sounded as the Laredo II swept past the big boat. Someone called us through the bullhorn as Tommy took the wheel to rectify Midge’s maneuver. The boom swung across the stern as we started to come about. Midge’s voice was sharp and high-pitched as she justified her moves with Tommy. I was on my way to the mainsail, my ear cocked for Tommy’s order, when I saw Sally Anne slide overboard.

I dashed for her, but she was already gone, and I remember seeing her leaning out, clinging to the railing with one hand, holding her position on the edge of the deck as if she were thinking about jumping, weighing the odds. The dark glasses were off. Her face had a crazy look.

“Sally Anne’s overboard!” I said.

“Christ!” Tommy snapped some orders at Midge.

The Laredo tilted again. We were still moving, and you can’t stop a sailboat in the water. It’s not a car. You can’t slam on the brakes. I thought about that as I unhooked a life preserver from a stanchion. The life preserver was tied to a ring. The rope was 150 feet long, Philippine hemp, from Ace Hardware. “Tommy!” I yelled. “Handle the rope!”

“No!” he yelled. “Wait, partner—”

But I was already gone, into the dark green waters of the Pacific.

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