A sizzling Latina singer spells murder for Detroit's best P.I.
Who is Gilia Cristobal?
She's simply one of the hottest of hot Latina singers. Nothing in her life, however, is simple. In her native land she was involved with people the government didn't like, and she barely escaped with her life to start fresh in the United States. In her wake she left behind accusations about a former lover, about violence, and about blackmail. Now she's in Detroit to make music and wants Amos Walker to protect her from those who have threatened her life. She also wants him to investigate someone from the darkest chapter of her former life. When Walker realizes that Gilia's main man, recently out of prison, doesn't regret the time he nearly killed Walker, what first seemed like an easy payday starts looking more and more like a losing proposition. Latin heat, indeed.
Poison Blonde is an enormously entertaining, fast-paced novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. Estleman has never been better!
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
Hired by a curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts to serve as his bodyguard during a transaction involving a stolen illuminated manuscript, Amos Walker enters a darkened skin-flick theater where the exchange is supposed to take place. When the deal goes south, he’s lucky to leave with his life . . . and a new lead to pursue in collaring the man who murdered his partner 20 years ago.
In a case that features a wheelchair-bound pornographer and rare book collector, an ultra-slick art expert, a trophy wife, and a white-collar criminal, Walker faces one of the greatest challenges of his career as a present-day crime draws him back to one of the darkest episodes of his past.
The Hours of the Virgin is the 13th book in the Amos Walker Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
A master practitioner’s view of his craft, this classic survey of the fiction of the American West is part literary history, part criticism, and entertaining throughout. The first edition of The Wister Trace was published in 1987, when Larry McMurtry had just reinvented himself as a writer of Westerns and Cormac McCarthy’s career had not yet taken off. Loren D. Estleman’s long-overdue update connects these new masters with older writers, assesses the genre’s past, present, and future, and takes account of the renaissance of western movies, as well.
Estleman’s title indicates the importance he assigns Owen Wister’s 1902 classic, The Virginian. Wister was not the first writer of Westerns, but he defined the genre, contrasting chivalry with the lawlessness of the border and introducing such lines as “When you call me that, smile!” Estleman tips his hat to Wister’s predecessors, among them Ned Buntline, the inventor of the dime novel, and Buffalo Bill. His assessments of Wister’s successors—Zane Grey, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, and Louis L’Amour, to name but three—soon make clear the impossibility of differentiating great western writing from great American writing.
Especially important in this new edition is the attention to women writers. The author devotes a chapter each to Dorothy Johnson—author of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”—and Annie Proulx, whose Wyoming stories include “Brokeback Mountain.” In his discussion of movies, Estleman includes a list of film adaptations that will guide readers to movies, and moviegoers to books. An appendix draws readers’ attention to authors not covered elsewhere in the volume—some of them old masters like Bret Harte and Jack London, but many of them fascinating outliers ranging from Clifford Irving to Joe R. Lansdale.
Though he shares his name with the most famous heartthrob of the silent era, Valentino is not part of film history. Rather, he is a scholar of it, working at UCLA to help find and preserve rare films. But not all movies are lost because of careless storage. Some were hidden deliberately, and there are those who will kill to ensure they stay that way. In these short stories, Valentino’s searches for missing motion pictures become dangerous investigations, and he is forced to decide what’s more important—preserving film history, or preserving his own neck.
Comprised of timeless short stories that have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Loren D. Estleman’s Valentino: Film Detective shows why Estleman is considered a master not just of film history, but of the enduring art of murder, which golden-age Hollywood did so much to perfect.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
In 1944, after Al Capone has been released from prison, J. Edgar Hoover assigns an FBI junior agent to insinuate himself into Capone's life and gain his trust so that Hoover can nail as many of Capone's Mob confederates as possible. Capone, suffering from the neurological effects of syphilis, is alternately lucid, full of the passion and energy that fueled his rise to the pinnacle of American crime...and rambling or ranting, the broken shell of a man released from prison so he could die at home with his family.
With the superb narrative gifts honed in dozens of novels, Estleman has captured the essence of this American icon as never before. With subtly nuanced portrayals of those in Capone's circle—his underrated wife Mae Capone, members of the Chicago Outfit including the deadly Frank Nitti—as well as his nemesis, J. Edgar Hoover, Hoover's secretary Helen Gandy and others, The Confessions of Al Capone is a major literary achievement.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Detroit is still decades away from becoming the “Motor City.” The budding manufacturing town is little more than a confederation of tightly knit ethnic enclaves, ruled over by men like Abner Crownover III, horse-coach baron, and James Dolan, a portly politician who runs the city government from behind the scenes. They had thought their grip on this young city was secure, but internal combustion is about to destroy their empire. An industrial wizard named Henry Ford has come to Detroit with a dream of making a fortune from horseless carriages. Twice bankrupted, he has lost the faith of every investor in town, save for Crownover’s son Harlan. When Dolan and his father refuse to finance Harlan’s new business venture, Harlan turns to the Mafia for the money. In the battle for its future, Detroit’s streets will run with blood. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Loren D. Estleman including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
It’s only been two decades since Connie Minor was on top, but it feels like centuries. Once a journalist, Minor spent Prohibition with his finger on gangland’s pulse, a confidant of every rumrunner, boss, and triggerman in Detroit. But as the gangsters fell, Minor went with them, replaced by a generation of reporters more interested in the Nazi Party than the inner workings of the Purple Gang. Now it’s the 1950s, and after years writing mindless ad copy, Minor fears that his brain may be permanently atrophied—that is, until an exciting new job drops on his desk. Minor is hired to sell Ford’s most original creation, the Edsel, meant to take America by storm. But the job quickly reintroduces him to some ugly old Detroit faces. When he uncovers a conspiracy against both a union leader and the new car, his reporter’s instincts kick in. It’s been years since Minor gabbed with mobsters, but it’s never too late for an old newspaperman to get whacked. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Loren D. Estleman including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
Funny how things work out sometimes.
Posing as Brother Bernard Sebastian of the Church of Evangelical Truth, Murdock dons a clerical collar to worm his way into the good graces and confidences of the wary residents of Owen, Texas. Seems a gang of ruthless bandits is terrorizing the Texas panhandle, and all evidence points to the dusty cattle town as their base of operations. Murdock aims to unmask the gang, provided he can pass himself off as a preacher long enough to stay alive.
Imitating a minister troubles his conscience, almost driving him to the Good Book for comfort, and his prickly assignment grows even more complicated when he crosses paths with a shady lady from his past. With one hand on the Bible and the other on his revolver, Murdock navigates shoot-outs and Sunday sermons. He might not be well-versed in the Gospels, but one thing he knows for certain: avenging angels don't get halos.
The Book of Murdock is an outstanding Western adventure by Page Murdock's celebrated creator, Loren D. Estleman.
In New Orleans, the black man, Honey Boutrille, saves a prostitute's life by killing her attacker.
In San Francisco, the white man, Twice Emmerson, kills a Chinaman because he likes killing.
These two men go on the lam, and their adventures, nip and tuck through scrape after scrape, are the zest of Loren Estleman's wildest tale of the West. The protagonists are different as black and white—Honey rough but honorable, Emmerson chaotic and violent. They attract not only the dogs of the law but the avid interest of those who would exploit them. A journalist tracks Honey, eager to turn his life story into a cautionary parable that will chill white readers. A showman seeks Emmerson, cynically eager to sign him to a contract for the stage and create a competitor to Buffalo Bill.
Honey and Emmerson rage through an authentic West drawn with a fierce and gleeful truthfulness, leaving trails of bodies, pursued ever more relentlessly, and moving always toward a central and inescapable meeting place, Denver, Colorado.
The meeting has the scope, inevitability, and shattering power of Greek tragedy. Black Power, White Smoke shows award-winning author Loren D. Estleman at the top of his game.
The High Rocks
U.S. Deputy Page Murdock rides into the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana in the dead of winter to bring in Bear Anderson, known as "Mountain That Walks" to the local Indians. Murdock, having grown up with Anderson, figures he owes it to the man to try to bring him in alive and give him a chance at a fair trial. But Murdock may have all he can handle in getting himself back down alive.
Deputy U.S. Marshall Page Murdock isn't happy when Judge Blackthorne decides to send him on an assignment to North Dakota, a land of sudden blizzards and spring floods. And to make matters worse he has been handed the nearly impossible job of apprehending the renegade Cheyenne leader Ghost Shirt, who is responsible for several massacres in the area.
Private eye Amos Walker is a Vietnam veteran who was thrown out of the Police Academy for punching a fellow cadet. He’s a hard man in a ruined city, scratching out a living looking for lost things.
Walker’s latest case comes by way of ex-mobster Ben Morningstar, who’s been living out his retirement in Phoenix while raising Maria, the daughter of a long-ago murdered friend. Only now, Maria is missing and the gangster needs Walker’s help. But the trail has gone cold—the only clue is a faded pornographic snapshot.
Never one to give up, Walker witnesses the kidnapping of a former Vietnam friend and solves the murder of a young black labor leader while slugging his way to a solution.
Fans of Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard’s crime fiction will find Estleman’s lean prose, retro style, and tough-guy hero irresistible.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Loren D. Estleman including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
The undertaker's wife waits; she weaves; she builds.
The undertaker practices his art, the Dismal Trade, with consummate skill. He has raised it to an art through the high craft of the Connable Method. Through it, he has managed to transform the ugliness of death into a thing of dignity and beauty. Victims brutalized by war, street fights, tavern brawls, ambushes, fires, every hazard in a raw West---these, in his hands, become presentable. Everywhere on the frontier, which erupts with life and death, he offers his skill: to the rich of San Francisco, the bawds and ruffians of the Barbary Coast, to Kansas cowboys, outlaws, soldiers, and sheriffs. He is devoted to dignifying the dead.
She is devoted to making her marriage whole, in spite of the tragedy that surrounds it and, most especially, in spite of the tragedy that in one terrible afternoon strikes at its center.
Today the undertaker is called to disguise the suicide of a famous financier. It is high drama, for only his art can save America's financial markets. Her task on this day is secret, an act of understanding and dedication.
In the end, it is the undertaker's wife who, through love, is able to transcend death.
Though Walker doubts Starzek is a terrorist, he finds treasury paper at a church run by Starzek's brother. Then Starzek's brother disappears too. Back to square one, Walker follows his best hunch, driving Starzek's usual cigarette route along the Lake Huron shore, and finally gets a solid lead on the paper hangers. But before Walker can break the case, someone tries to shoot him—and he's accused of murder. Walker will need all of his intestinal fortitude, injured leg notwithstanding, to stay alive long enough to figure out who's doing what to whom, in time to save his friend, in Nicotine Kiss.
But this time it's different. The trail leads Walker to an herbal remedies store, where the beautiful young clerk knows nothing about the dead body in the basement...or about any illegal activity that might be connected to the corpse. She is, however, interested in Walker's body, and he discovers he's interested in hers as well.
But he can't tarry long, for the Mafia could be involved...or maybe there's a connection to the porno film studio where the missing woman's former maid now works. But when two Mossad agents accost Walker—and then are brutally killed—he realizes he's discovered a plot far darker run by someone more deadly than either the Detroit Mafia or a two-bit porn pusher.
Who—or what—could be so viciously murderous? Walker has few clues, and knows only that with every new murder he is no closer to solving the case. When he finally gets a break, he recognizes the silken, deadly hand of a nemesis who nearly killed him twice before...and this time may finish the job.
In Loren D. Estleman's Don't Look For Me, Amos Walker's up to his neck in dames, drugs...and murder, again
Ordinary people do not understand Oscar Stone. Everything he does, he does impeccably. He is a profound student of his art, completely versed in its traditions over the centuries. He is a student of ropes and their properties, a master of the latest scientific knowledge about the human neck, a careful calculator of weights and drops, and an exacting observer of results.
For more than a quarter of a century he has worked to create a reputation as a man peerless in his craft: the master executioner.
Yet he is utterly alone: His devotion to his work costs him his marriage. Suddenly, one day, a piece of his past catches him unawares, and Oscar comes to a moment of devastating truth and for the first time knows himself.
He finds her son, who has been in Canada since the 1960s, evading the law since he was a Vietnam War protester. A simple favor, melancholy, but benign. Except that before he can get settled back in Detroit Garnet's son is dead, with him as the prime suspect.
He has little choice but to find out who might have done the deed and tried to pin the blame on him. . . and in the process he discovers another murder, of a boxer from the 1940s, Curtis Smallwood, who happens to have been the man's father. If that wasn't bad enough, his task is made much more complicated by the fact that the two murders, fifty-three years apart, were committed with the very same gun. And in a place where it was impossible for a gun to be.
Leland Stutch was building automobiles before Henry Ford ever dreamed up the Model T. He dominated Detroit for most of the 20th century as the auto industry soared and then began its long, slow descent. When Stutch’s widow contacts Amos Walker, the private eye expects to meet a doddering old lady. Instead he encounters Rayellen, a 30-something beauty with washboard abs and 1 of the most unusual propositions he’s ever heard.
Unconcerned with matrimonial vows, the most powerful man in Detroit left mistresses—and love children—all over Michigan. To stave off any future paternity suits, Rayellen hires Walker to locate Stutch’s illegitimate offspring and pay them off—a seemingly simple task that draws the detective into a dysfunctional family’s war zone and a violent case of kidnapping and murder.
Sinister Heights is the 15th book in the Amos Walker Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Johnny also arranges a special attraction for each town. While his actors bustle in and out of costumes, on and off the stage in many roles, one plays the villain in the bank. Then the actors take their curtain calls and railroad away.
Who? Us? Rob a bank? But you saw all of us on stage. When could we have done that?
A Pinkerton man becomes the troupe's severest critic: He notices the news reports of stage performances one day and bank robberies the next. He follows the troupe, packing his suspicions. Finally, he sets a clever trap.
Loren D. Estleman's The Adventures of Johnny Vermillion features one of the most entertaining rogues ever to turn a dishonest dollar. Any audience will love a troupe that can transform A Midsummer Night's Dream into grand larceny.
Walker is led to a meeting with a casino owner, who tells him Bairn owed money to a loan shark. The loan shark tells Walker that he is not the only one after Bairn. Soon Walker finds himself on the run from crooked cops and vile gangsters. Every time Walker thinks he's solved the case, he finds out he is farther from the truth than when he started. This case will take all of Walker's cunning, and will prove to be his greatest trial ever!
Los Angeles, 1921: Ex-Pinkerton Charlie Siringo is living in quiet retirement when Wyatt Earp knocks on his door and asks him to track down his missing horse. What begins as horse thievery turns into a deeper mystery as Siringo and another ex-Pinkerton, the young Dashiell Hammett, follow clues that take them from the streets of Los Angeles to Jack London's farm, until they discover a conspiracy masterminded by the notorious and powerful Joseph P. Kennedy.
From the first page to the closing chapter, these ragtime cowboys chase the truth in Loren D. Estleman's compelling tale of the Old West and early Hollywood.
No one paid any mind to Jack McCall as he unloaded a .44 caliber slug into Wild Bill Hickok's brain at point-blank range. Deadwood's legendary gunslinging marshal was dead, holding a poker hand of aces and eights, a dead man's hand.
The question the law wanted to know: was McCall a hired killer or did he kill Hickok to avenge his brother's death? Find out in Loren D. Estleman's Aces & Eights.
Multiple Shamus Award winner Loren D. Estleman is "a superb stylist as well as a deft storyteller [who] paints his people and his city with acerbic wit and wry affection" (San Diego Union-Tribune). In Little Black Dress, Peter Macklin was a hit man for a long time but he has taken steps to distance himself from his tattooed past, like quitting the mob, moving away from Detroit, and marrying the gorgeous, intelligent Laurie. But retirement isn't easy for an ex-hit man.
Now the man accustomed to killing people in cold blood must adjust to a sadistic ritual of early marriage... he must spend time with his eccentric mother-in-law. This event takes an unexpected turn when Macklin discovers mom-in-law's boyfriend Benjamin Grinnell is a spotter for a gang of armed robbers. Unfortunately, Grinnell made a big mistake: he failed to spot a shotgun-toting shop-owner, whom the gang had to turn into red mist. Now Grinnell's life is threatened, and Grinnell's jeopardy endangers his sweetie... and Laurie.
Macklin, driven by his professional curiosity and his desire to protect his family, can't help but get involved. As Macklin investigates Grinnell's dark affairs, he inevitably gets tangled up with Grinnell's enemies, including the Ohio mob... and the law. All parties converge in a deadly shootout, with the lives of Macklin's loved ones and the fate of his marriage precariously hanging in the balance.
City of Widows shows western author Loren D. Estleman at the top of his game.
When she hires Detroit private detective Amos Walker to look into the old crime, she immediately has a problem: the intended victim was investigative reporter Barry Stackpole, Walker's only real friend. Walker's not thrilled to help get his buddy's would-be killer off the hook. But money's money. It won't be easy. For starters, though Joey's ex-wives grudgingly talk with Walker, he knows they're not really leveling with him. And two new murders tied to the case aren't likely to make them chattier.
Walker, friendless and desperate for answers, follows a string of leads old and new straight into a war of nerves and bullets in Detroit's seedy crime-ridden underbelly. It'll be a dirty job for Walker in The Left-Handed Dollar, Loren D. Estleman's twentieth Amos Walker mystery.
Deep in the same desert, an ancient Spanish alchemist searches for the fabled philosopher's stone. Resolutely alone in his quest he devotes his long life to hunting the secrets of the old gods.
As these two men seek answers to questions that have confounded mankind for centuries, their stories encompass the panorama of American history. This journey from wild frontier into the twentieth century is an unforgettable experience.
The area is flooded with billboards rented by the widow of Donald Gates, an ordinary suburbanite found shot to death in his basement on New Year's Eve: "YOU KNOW WHO KILLED ME!" they read, above the number of the sheriff's tip line. Complicating matters is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderer, offered by an anonymous donor through the dead man's place of worship.
Initially hired by the sheriff's department to run down anonymous tips, Walker investigates further. The trail leads to former fellow employee Yuri Yako, a Ukrainian mobster, relocated to the area through the U.S. Marshals' Witness Protection Program.
Shadowed by government operatives, at odds with the sheriff, and struggling with his addiction, Walker soldiers on, in spite of bodies piling up and the fact that almost everyone involved with the case is lying to him.
Amos Walker is hired by Helen and Dante Gunner, a bohemian Ann Arbor couple, to find Jerry Marcus, a film director who has disappeared with their investment money. It's one of Walker's easiest jobs to date. In just a few short hours, Walker locates Marcus in his bedroom...murdered, his body shoved into a cupboard, a bullet through his head.
This case is opened and shut quickly, but Walker can't quite let it go. When Dante is arrested for the murder Walker finds himself again in Helen's employ, this time trying to prove that Dante didn't do it.
When Walker interviews Holly Zacharias, a college student who was the last person to see Marcus alive, things get interesting. Because if Marcus is dead, and Dante is his killer, then who is driving by in the Crown Vic, shooting at Walker and Holly?
Jerry Marcus just might still be alive, and his plans may be worse than anything Walker can imagine.
Even prison couldn’t stop former big-league pitcher Doc Miller from playing baseball. Jailed after a teenage girl overdosed on cocaine at one of his house parties, the former Detroit Tigers ace became a star at the Michigan State Prison, bringing home the institution’s first Midwestern Penal System championship. Now out on parole, his days of ballpark heroics are over for good. Miller’s brother gets him a job selling tractor parts for John Deere, work Doc finds even duller than life in the joint. While moonlighting as a cab driver, he meets a bail bondsman who offers work as a bounty hunter. On their first job together, they find their target savagely murdered. His name was Ambrose X. Dryce, formerly Wilson McCoy, a Black Panther turned drug lord. Sucked back into the criminal underworld, Doc will need to make his best plays to stay alive without violating his parole. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Loren D. Estleman including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
When a bibliophile is murdered, it takes a bookseller to solve the crime
Good Advice, New Mexico, is a sunny town with a gloomy bookshop. The store’s eerie corridors are the province of Avery Sharecross, an ex-cop who has made the transition from chasing killers to tracking rare books. One afternoon, the local sheriff interrupts his book club meeting, and Sharecross’s old career collides with his new one. The area’s premier book collector has been found bludgeoned to death on the floor of his family library. A fifth-generation resident of Good Advice, Lloyd Fister devoted his life to books, accumulating a collection of local history that date backs to the sixteenth century. In his library, a single volume is missing: a Spanish book with a sinister past. Is the missing volume a clue, a motive, or a murder weapon? It will take a collector’s eye to decide.
Amos Walker knows Detroit, from the highest to the lowest, and that includes the gangs of Mexicantown. When a friend asks Walker to get his son's brother-in-law out of one of two feuding gangs, Walker gets in trouble fast. First, dead bodies start to pile up; then come suspicious fires and the bottle bombs. Walker is caught in the middle of a gang war.
Whether or not a middle-aged gringo like him can cool things off between the Maldados and the Zapatistas, he's got to try; he did promise his friend. Once he gets involved, he realizes there's something else going on; the specter of an international conspiracy threatens to make this local trouble blow sky-high. And if he ends up dead or in jail for murders he didn't commit, he might have to put that promise on hold. It's tough being Amos Walker.
For many years Bean, the cantankerous, self-styled arbiter of rough frontier justice, wrote fan letters to the beautiful actress across the sea; occasionally, she wrote back. He even renamed the town in which he lived Langtry in her honor. And they would have met, if Bean had not died shortly before Lillie, after years of this strange but poignant correspondence, finally kept her promise to visit her distant admirer. In Roy & Lillie, a story of letters lost and at long last found, Loren D. Estleman, with all the nuance and narrative skill that has won him multiple Spur Awards, brings to life an untold chapter of transatlantic love that is as tender as it is unique.
In Edsel, it has only been two decades since Connie Minor was on top, but it feels like centuries. Once a journalist, Minor spent Prohibition with his finger on gangland’s pulse, a confidant of every rumrunner, boss, and triggerman in Detroit. But as the gangsters fell, Minor went with them, replaced by a generation of reporters more interested in the Nazi Party than the inner workings of the Purple Gang. Now it’s the 1950s, and after years writing mindless ad copy, Minor fears that his brain may be permanently atrophied—that is, until an exciting new job drops on his desk. Minor is hired to sell Ford’s most original creation, the Edsel, meant to take America by storm. But the job quickly reintroduces him to some ugly old Detroit faces. When he uncovers a conspiracy, his reporter’s instincts kick in. It’s been years since Minor gabbed with mobsters, but it’s never too late for an old newspaperman to get whacked.
In Stress, for Paul Kubicek and the city of Detroit, 1972 ends in a haze of blood. A police officer in need of extra work, Kubicek spends New Year’s Eve moonlighting as a security guard at an upscale party. Just before midnight, he sees three black men, a shotgun, and a pistol. He takes out the would-be burglars in less than a minute. Only after they are all dead does he realize one man was unarmed. The police department asks Charlie Battle, one of its few African American officers, to head up the investigation into Kubicek’s shooting. As racial tensions threaten to tear Detroit apart, Battle tries to break through the department’s code of silence, fighting for truth in a city where lies are a way of life.
And in Motown, rage simmers beneath the tranquil surface of 1960s Detroit. As the auto industry enjoys its last moments of prosperity, widespread discrimination infuriates the city’s black middle class. One of the most destructive riots of the twentieth century is around the corner, and Rick Amery is going to be right in the middle. A longtime cop forced out of the department on trumped-up graft charges, Amery shares Detroit’s obsession with muscle cars. It was the temptation of a white ’64 Thunderbird that cost him his badge, and it is for the sake of General Motors that he takes his first job as a private investigator, digging up dirt on a consumer advocate who calls GM cars death traps. Amery must work quickly, for no hot rod on Earth is fast enough to outrun the trouble that’s gaining on the Motor City.
Valentino wants to keep The Oracle, his beloved run-down movie palace, from being condemned before it even reopens, but murder keeps intruding into his otherwise quiet life. At a gala party held in memory of screen legend Greta Garbo, he's having fun until the host, a hotshot developer named Matthew Rankin, tells Valentino about a certain letter from Garbo to his late wife. She and Garbo had been...close.
Such a letter is of great interest to a film archivist like Valentino, but the the plot thickens when Rankin tells Val that his assistant, Akers, is using this letter to blackmail him. Val is appalled by the thought of blackmail...but that letter sounds juicier all the time. Returning to Rankin's mansion after the party, Val finds Rankin sitting at his desk with a pistol in his hand, looking at Akers's dead body on the floor.
Valentino's in a quandary. He'd love to see that letter, but he can't. He's gotten his girlfriend—who works for the police—in trouble, so his love life is, pardon the expression, shot to hell. Worse yet, the building inspector has kicked him out of his unfinished living space in the Oracle, so he takes his life in his hands and moves in with his eccentric mentor, the elderly, insomniac Professor Broadhead. No love, no sleep, no letter—life isn't fair!