Months after escaping death in the circus ring at the hands of the Dead Clowns and the feet of a stampeding elephant, he is no longer a half-assed private eye with an office and no license, but instead a half-assed tow truck driver without either. Still, he manages to find ample time to drink lots of diner coffee, hang with fellow down-and-out diner denizens and have all those shiny daydreams about landing that BIG CASE.
Well, careful what you wish for, Fitch.
Because when a wealthy widow hires him to sniff along the trail of a soapbox svengali with a hobo history and several mysterious deaths in his wake, not only will it put Fitch, aka Gastown’s Favourite Punching Bag, in harm’s way as he navigates a twisted road of stolen coins, defrocked dentists, wacky hallucinogens, crooked cops, and cult crazies, but his past, present and future will also come a-calling, each with their own knockout blow to land.
Basically, Fitch will be forced to question damn near everything, sanity included.
Who knew 40 nickels could get a guy in so much hot water?
Praise for 40 NICKELS:
“Action packed from the first sentence, R. Daniel Lester offers readers a briskly paced down-and-out detective yarn, cleverly composed and executed at a machine gun clip. A twisted look at the lengths desperation stretches its victims and the bizarre attempts one man makes to stay one step ahead of his runaway case. Full of kooky phantasmagoric imagery and the blackest diner coffee this side of three a.m. 40 Nickels is worth every penny.” —J.D. Graves, Editor-in-Chief, Econoclash Revue
“You’re guaranteed to walk into the fight heavy with your knuckles wrapped around 40 Nickels. Fitch is a hard-up dick on a long, strange trip, whose mistress is chaos. Lester’s tale takes you right into the back alleys of post-war Vancouver, where you might end up chasing The Sacred Glow, and just when you think you got lucky, daddio, you end up on your back, with a new set of choppers.” —Scotch Rutherford, Managing Editor, Switchblade
“The thing about R. Daniel Lester’s writing is it’s boiling just under the surface. You ride along through his stories, enjoying how he has all the right things in all the right amounts. But where you can’t see it, tension is rising. Fangs are being bared. It’s boiling. And when it gets to the surface, he’s got you where his talent wants you when it hits.” —Ryan Sayles, author of the Richard Dean Buckner thrillers
Carnegie Fitch, once-upon-a-time drifter and now half-assed private eye, has a sharp tongue, a cheap suit and dog-bite marks on his fedora. Yes, that’s just how he rolls through the downtown streets of Vancouver, BC, Canada, aka Terminal City, circa 1957, a land of neon signs, 24-hour diners and slumming socialites.
Fitch gets the case of a lifetime when he gets caught up in the death of a janitor with a checkered past as a circus performer and a stash of ill-gotten gains. And since nothing attracts the moths quite like the glow of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he will cross paths with a series of lowlifes and nut jobs, including a gang of criminal clowns, a femme fatale with beaucoup daddy issues and an off-kilter circus elephant named Mary with a taste for human fear.
See, Fitch has always dreamed of the big score, the buried treasure, the duffel bag full of cash. Because that’s fat city, the place to be. Easy money. The good life, where the whisky flows like water and you never get a bill. But what if nothing is as it seems and chasing the dream means getting knocked silly not once but twice and ending up in a hospital bed, pissing blood after being repeatedly kidney punched by a psycho clown with no moral compass?
And what if that’s not the worst that will happen?
What if Fitch is forced to dig through his past to sort out who he is and why he is and just what the hell he wants out of this loopy thing called “life” anyway.
Well, then Fitch’d have a serious case of the Dead Clown Blues.
Clowns are like politics; everyone has an opinion on them. In this collection of short stories you’ll find numerous takes on the world of the painted harlequin entertainer. Often maligned in today’s day and age, the institution of the clown means something to everyone.
And sure, most of these clowns are armed. They’re less than concerned about the moral ramifications of their actions. Hell, they might be demonic. We’ve got it all. Clown cars, rodeos, adultery, robbery, mayhem, balloon animals, self-immolation, big red noses, cremation chambers, a funeral and kids’ TV shows, just to name some.
But for a dad who dresses as the most infamous clown ever to sneak into his son’s party or a woman who uses her costume as a ruse to rob and cheat to a man who’s lifelong companion is a clown apparition, the hair and make-up are just a means to an end.
An untimely end.
Edited by Ryan Sayles and featuring stories by Patricia Abbott, J.L. Abramo, Jen Conley, Jeffery Hess, Grant Jerkins, David James Keaton, Ed Kurtz, R. Daniel Lester, Marietta Miles, Warren Moore, Chuck Regan, Scotch Rutherford, Liam Sweeney, Richard Thomas, James R. Tuck, and Lono Waiwaiole.