The Cana Diversion
William Campbell Gault
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While tangling with radicals, Brock stumbles on a colleague’s corpse
Brock Callahan, ex-private investigator, is still not used to wealth and retirement. In fact he is struggling through a game of golf when the clubhouse calls with the curious news that his wife is in jail, pulled in at an anti-nuclear protest. Callahan hires Joe Puma, private detective and onetime peer, to post bail for the budding radical. A few days later, Puma is dead, and Brock begins to wonder where the student movement’s shadowy roots lie.
The agitators want to stop the proposed Mirage Point reactor, which sits at the intersection of mob money, corrupt utilities, and the violent rage of the radical fringe. And as Callahan knows all too well, California doesn’t run on nuclear energy; the state is powered by the dirtiest fuel there is—old-fashioned, murderous greed.
live near a nuclear power plant, would they?” “You’ve got the picture,” he said. “Maybe we’d better get something to eat before those hippies clean out all the tables.” We left early, as I’d promised Jan. Our phone was ringing when we opened the front door. I got to it in time. It was Vogel. “I’ve been calling you for three hours. Where the hell have you been?” “I had a kilo of heroin to deliver,” I told him, “and the buyer kept haggling over the price. Why do you ask?” “Because I got a
place where he now lived eight months ago. On the way down I stopped at a liquor store to buy him a bottle of vintage corn and a carton of cigarettes. I know that cigarettes are a cancer-inducing agent, but Lenny already had that—what he called “The Big C.” He still drank and he still smoked when the doctors weren’t watching, and he would continue both until the final out. The place where he lived was a converted mansion near the foothills. It was run by a wealthy woman who also had not been
Sloan Hartford was still strong. I pulled in behind the black Cordoba with the Nevada license. I was getting out of the car when two men came out of the house. They stopped on the porch to look down at me. They were not wide and swarthy and dressed in dark suits. They were average-size nondescript-type guys. They could have been insurance salesmen or stockbrokers. Both of them wore sports jackets and slacks and loafers. “Is Calvin home?” I asked them. “Calvin Ellers?” the one on the right
Another martini?” “Why not? All I had on Darius was the name of his girl friend. What Joe found out from her I don’t know.” “Darius is married?” “Oh, yes. Real solid citizen. Gets a lot of the movie trade, big-money people.” I signaled the waiter, ordered two more of the same. When he went away, I asked, “What’s Darius’s speciality?” “Cosmetic surgery.” That could be the link. Hide, phone, intimidation; the pattern was forming. I said, “And you’re going to sell me the name of the girl
bed?” “In bed—Jan, Lois must weigh one hundred and sixty pounds!” “Oh? You mean you only commit adultery with thin women?” Very quietly and very calmly I said, “I have just spent three hours walking in that hot sun. Why don’t you get us a pair of cool tall drinks and I’ll explain it all.” “All right. With booze in them, I suppose?” “Vodka and tonic would be nice.” I sat in the air-conditioned dimness of the den, listening to the clink of ice dropping into glasses in the kitchen. She