Friday, July 8, 1955
Ben White, a movie producer working on Nick’s dime, is ready to show off what he’s been up to, so Nick and Carter head to Hollywood to see what there is to see and, to be polite, it stinks.
Ben’s director has an idea and he says it’s gonna make Nick even richer than he already is.
But, before they can start the cameras rolling, leading man William Fraser is found murdered at the lavish Beverly Hills mansion of seductive silent screen star Juan Zane. Carlo Martinelli, Ben’s lover, is arrested and charged with murder even though everyone in town knows he’s innocent, including the District Attorney.
Meanwhile, the Beverly Hills Police Chief makes sure that Nick knows that his kind of help isn’t wanted in the posh village, home to some of Hollywood’s most famous stars. The chief is running a good, clean, wholesome town, after all.
From Muscle Beach to Mulholland Drive, Nick and Carter begin to piece together the clues that point to who did it and why. Somehow they manage to do so in the sweltering heat and noxious smog of the Southland.
In the end, however, will anyone be brought to justice? It’s Hollywood, so you’ll have to wait for the final reel to find out.
“Nick, wake up.”
I opened my eyes. I could see a shadow hovering above me. I reached up and felt Carter’s stubble-covered face. “What?”
“Ben just called. Greg and Micky got into a fight. Greg broke Micky’s nose and dislocated his shoulder. They’re all at the hospital. Ben wants us to come down.” He reached down and kissed me. “What were you dreaming about?”
I sighed. “Something about Liz and dessert.”
“Liz who? Liz Taylor? Are you dreaming about Hollywood?”
I laughed as he kissed me again. “No. Much bigger. Liz as in Queen Elizabeth.”
Carter nibbled on my left ear. He whispered, “She doesn’t look like a Liz. She looks like a Betty.”
I put my arms around his neck. “We need to get up. Ben needs us.”
Carter sighed and said, “I know.” He kissed my forehead.
“Why didn’t I hear the phone?”
“I was already awake when it rang.”
“Yes. That kid was in the swimming pool. I heard him splashing around. Buck naked, too.”
I laughed. “You know you’re not his type, right?”
Carter kissed my lips. “You saw that, huh?”
“You bet. I saw you running your eyes over his body. And I know why.”
“Why?” asked Carter as he ran his right hand along my face.
“He’s not the one you have a crush on. It’s his motorcycle.”
Carter laughed. “You’re right, Nick. When you’re right, you’re right.”
“Why haven’t you bought one since we were in Georgia?” He’d had an Indian motorcycle while we were on a case, investigating his father’s murder, in Albany, Georgia, back in the summer of ’53.
“It’s one thing to run around on a motorcycle in the backwoods of Georgia. It’s a whole other thing to go up and down California Street. Every time I’ve thought about it, all I can imagine myself doing is driving around and around Huntington Park. That would get boring after a while.”
“It’s mostly flat around here.”
“It’s not just the hills. It’s also the traffic.”
“We have to go, Carter.”
“I know,” he sighed. “Just five more minutes. They’ll wait.”
I said, “Fine,” and pulled him down on me.