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P.I. Gideon "Bud" Lowry has been known to play Cole Porter tunes during his late-night piano gigs, but lately he's had reason to finger some melancholy melodies. Successful restaurateur Gabriella Wade is getting married. Years ago, Gideon and Gaby were more than just friends, before her true love -- her Blue Moon restaurant -- monopolized her time. But now her wheeler-dealer fiance, Roy Emerson, is refusing to take a simple medical test for a rare disease that may affect their children, and she wants Gideon to find out why.
Meanwhile, developers want to tear down Gideon's Duval Street domain to build a strip mall -- a tasteless tourist trap complete with a bar tended by scantily clad waitresses. Gideon has no intentions of selling or moving, and after a suspicious fire nearly destroys his home he suspects that real estate magnate Fred Pacey -- one of the biggest nitwits in Key West -- may have resorted to arson.
Fired up by his misfortunes and a strong desire to protect Gaby, Gideon begins an investigation into Roy Emerson's background that stretches from Key West to the Wild West -- Wyoming. And the results are explosive. Roy has been working with Fred Pacey on the Duval Street mall project. Worse yet, fatal accidents seem to follow Roy aro und, especially when his independently wealthy significant others carry large life insurance policies. To top it all off, before Gideon can amass enough evidence to open Gaby's love-blind eyes, she and Roy elope -- and disappear.
With throngs of tourists descending upon Key West for the annual Halloween parade, Gideon is one native Conch who isn't masking his fears. During the season reserved for mayhem and madness, all he holds dear is in jeopardy -- and if he doesn't find Gaby soon, he'll be left standing alone at the Blue Moon forever.
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John Leslie lives in the Florida Keys. He is currently at work on his next novel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter 1 from: Blue Moon
"Location, location, location. You've heard that before, haven't you, Bud?"
Staring above Frank Pappagallo's inquisitive gaze, I take in the framed photographs on the wall above his head -- all the transformations this establishment has undergone over the years -- and recognize them all. Welcome to the Blue Moon, Key West's only five-star restaurant.> So the menu reads.
"Don't patronize me, Frank," I say. "I wasn't born yesterday." For the price of the food, the company could be more appetizing, I think. On the other hand, I'm not paying. On still another hand, I'm too old to have to listen to such crap.
"And I don't give a damn about real estate slogans," I continue, warming a bit to my own tirade. "I've lived in this town all my life. So what if somebody wants to pay me five times what the place is worth and ten, maybe twenty times what I paid for it God knows how many years ago. It's my home. I live there. What am I going to do, move every time some new pipsqueak with a fat wallet comes to town and decides this is it? The next hot spot. Location, location, location. They might as well hang a sign outside Key West changing its name to Location. How many times have you seen this place change, anyway?"
"Don't get sore, Bud."
Bud. My high school nickname. Hardly anyone from the old days calls me Gideon any longer....
"Who's getting sore? I'm sixty years old, trying to live out my life and keep a little business going."
"I want you to do that, Bud. Everybody wants you to do that. But why in the middle of Duval Street?"
"Because it's my home, Frank. My home. Can't you understand that. I live here. I feel something for it. It's not just a place to do business. My life's here."
Frank sighs. "For half a million dollars I could take my life someplace else."
"That's the difference between you and me, Frank."
"I know it. And by the way, it isn't a new pip-squeak."
"Yeah, who the hell is it?"
"Fred Pacey's involved."
"Pacey's moving uptown? I thought he was happy making millions downtown."
I can see that Frank's smile is forced. He is uncomfortable. "Location. A higher-class neighborhood. Speaking of high-class neighborhoods, how do you like your dinner?"
"Twice-cooked pork. What's wrong, they couldn't get it right the first time?"
Now Frank looks hurt.
"I'm kidding, Frank. Seriously, I'm happy for Gaby. I've known her for a long time. When she first opened, it was rice and beans and fried plantains. Now look at the place. Starched linen. Thirty-dollar bottles of wine. And food I can't even pronounce."
"Three blocks from where you live, Bud. When she first opened, she was paying a couple hundred dollars a month rent. Now it's five thousand. You don't make that kind of money serving rice and beans. Gabriella!"
"Hi, Frank. Look who you dragged in. Bud, it's been a long time. How have you been?" Gaby is tall, slender, with minty green eyes that survey me warmly. An old friend. She is wearing a simple dark blue dress with thin straps, her dark hair curling just above her bare shoulders.
"No complaints. We were just talking about the old days, Gaby, when you first started in the restaurant business."
Gaby smiles happily, putting a hand on my shoulder. "You were a regular." Her expression is open, honest. Never anything spoiled about Gaby, just as I remember her from so many years ago when we were close. She seems unchanged.
"I could afford to be," I say. "Now I've got to wait for somebody with deep pockets like Frank here to bring me in. He's trying to get me to sell my place."
"Don't make any deals until you've had dessert. Try the crazy flan borracho. It's flavored with Cointreau. It's on me. I've got to run. Enjoy your meal."
"She's something. You used to go out with her, didn't you, Bud?"
"Briefly. A long time ago."
"You old dog. I hear she's getting married."
"Don't know. She's a looker though, isn't she, Bud? How old you think she is?"
"Mid-thirties. Somewhere in there."
"Her first, isn't it?"
"As far as I know."
"She's worked hard. Nose to the grindstone the last ten years or so to put this together."
I nod idly, lost in thought about Gaby. Remembering the way her body felt when she would come over some mornings after I'd played a late club date and, fresh from a shower, slide into bed with me.
"Anyway, Bud, you'll think about it?"
"Did Pacey put you on me, Frank? Is that what this is all about?"
"Please, Bud. You know me better than that. We go back, you and me. I wouldn't do that. I'm just the messenger passing along the word I hear on the street."
"That's good of you, Frank. The word according to Fred Pacey."
"He's buying up your block, Bud."
"For what? More T-shirt shops?"
"A mall. Upscale."
"You don't say."
Frank shrugs. I know he is terribly uncomfortable, that he isn't going to push this. "Bud, how about dessert?"
"I don't drink."
Frank laughs, relieved. "Gaby's got ice cream. Plain old vanilla."
"You know my weaknesses."
"He's already got the Cuban grocery store next to you."
"Pacey. He's buying the little groceria next door to you."
A twinge of pain stabs my side. "I'll take the vanilla ice cream," I say.
Frank smiles weakly. "I'm sorry."
"Hey, it's only a neighborhood. What's the price?"
"I hear three-seventy-five."
"You're getting the idea."
"I don't think so, Frank. Like you say, I'm an old dog. Too old for these new ideas."
"You thinking at all about retirement, Bud?"
"What's to retire from? Nobody's beating the door down to hire a private detective these days. We're a dying breed. The Edsel of occupations."
"That's funny, Bud."
"I wish I could laugh with you."
"So you're sixty years old. Not a lot of work. But you've got some money saved and a house that's a gold mine. Why not take the money, get yourself off Duval Street, move in to some quiet noncommercial neighborhood. What's the sense of hanging on there? I don't see how you sleep at night, the traffic and noise all hours.
"I sleep just fine. Nothing on my conscience."
"You're a pistol, Bud."
"Drink your dessert, Frank. I enjoyed the meal but this discussion's given me a pain in my side. You don't mind, I think I'll take a powder, walk home and get my last view of Duval Street before the sidewalks get paved with gold and I can't afford to walk on them anymore."
Copyright © 1998 by John Leslie
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Book Description Atria Books, 2008. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1416598766
Book Description Atria Books, 2008. Paperback. Condition: Brand New. 247 pages. 8.25x5.50x0.75 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # zk1416598766
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