Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Starfall by John Hegenberger

Release date: February 20, 2016
Sub-genre: Alternate History Mystery

About Starfall:

In March 1959, the nation is introduced to the Mercury 7 astronauts, while a hard-luck private eye working undercover for a major movie producer searches Hollywood and his soul to learn who killed the 8th candidate for America’s first man into space.

"Starting from the opening pages when L.A. private investigator Stan Wade interrupts a tryst between two 1950's television stars (and then learning nothing is quite what it seems), John Hegenberger takes the reader on a rip-roaring ride. Using a clever mix of real life people and fictional characters, the author spins a web of lies and deceit that could be more than possible. With a lead who is actually a hero, an evocative atmosphere of a world long gone, and some of the snappiest dialogue since Raymond Chandler, the reader is not only assured of, but guaranteed, an old fashioned good time."
 Will Graham, author of SPIDER'S DANCE, SPIDER'S KISS, and others


I loved my job.  I get threatened and shot at by the most interesting people.  Today it would be another Hollywood star.  Tomorrow?  Maybe a mobster.  Maybe a commie.  Maybe even an astronaut.  But today’s assignment was to go and bring back a wayward starlet.  Or so I’d assumed.
     So, I grabbed an early lunch and pointed my battered ’53 Kaiser Manhattan toward Palm Springs, cruising east on highway 111, past Cathedral City and Palm Desert.  Eventually, the road snaked up a hill of boulders and rattlers to a swell hideaway spot.  The low ranch-style house was a combination of Spanish and modern.  I parked next to a chartreuse Caddy and checked the license plates.  A hot, dry wind blew off the mountains and lightly touched up my hair.  I hung my sunglasses on the rear view mirror and got out to approach the front entrance, listening to my footsteps crunch gravel.
     I knocked, listened, and tried the door.  It was part wood and part glass and all locked.  I took off my jacket, held it to the glass and struck smartly with my right elbow.  Now I could hear pulsating music coming from a room in the back of the house.  I walked toward it.
     She was dancing.  Arms and legs spread wide.  A leopard-skin one-piece bathing suit.  The pool on the terrace behind her moving body shimmered in the afternoon sun. 
     I lifted the needle from the LP on the stereo, and she staggered when the sound stopped, turning to raise a fit.  
     “All right, Annette,” I sighed, jabbing a thumb over my left shoulder.  “Party’s over.  Let’s go.”
     She screeched and let fly with a heavy cut-glass tumbler that bounced off the wall behind me.  I smelled expensive whiskey.
     She charged forward with raised claws, so I lifted the record from the stereo and skimmed it at her, like one of those new Frisbees.  I gently took hold of her right wrist, spun her around and enfolded her tight until she stopped twisting and stomping.   I nudged the phone receiver off the hook with my right knee and dialed “0” with my left forefinger.  
     From the corner of my eye, I saw Guy Williams come into the room, tightening an electric-blue bath robe.  I raised the phone receiver to his handsome face.  He stepped back, smiled, and bowed graciously.
     This tough-guy persona was working fine for me and I figured this was going to be one of my better assignments.  “Hello, operator?  Get me Disney Studios.  Hollywood.  Stan Wade calling.”

About John Hegenberger:

Born and raised in the heart of the heartland, Columbus, Ohio, John Hegenberger is the author of several series: Stan Wade LAPI in 1959, Eliot Cross Columbus-based PI in 1988, and Ace Hart, western gambler in 1877.  He’s the father of three, tennis enthusiast, collector of silent films and OTR, hiker, Francophile, B.A. Comparative Lit., Pop culture author, ex-Navy, ex-marketing exec at Exxon, AT&T, and IBM, happily married for 45 years and counting.  Active member of SFWA, PWA and ITW.

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