Floatersby Joseph Wambaugh
The world-famous America’s Cup regatta has come to San Diego, bringing with it sailors, schemers, spies, saboteurs, and the “cuppies” who love them. Along with them is a gorgeous opportunist named Blaze who unwittingly triggers a pair of murders on the eve of the biggest sailing race of them all. A veteran of twenty years of police work and two… See more details below
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The world-famous America’s Cup regatta has come to San Diego, bringing with it sailors, schemers, spies, saboteurs, and the “cuppies” who love them. Along with them is a gorgeous opportunist named Blaze who unwittingly triggers a pair of murders on the eve of the biggest sailing race of them all. A veteran of twenty years of police work and two failed marriages, Mick Fortney’s life consists of piloting his police patrol boat in Mission Bay and boozing in harbor side saloons. But a “floater” in the bay sends Mick into the world of the superrich and an elite sport shot through with corruption—a world where this water cop is totally out of his element. “Classic Wambaugh, a wildly satirical look at the sport of millionaires, yacht racing, and the obsession of enthusiasts with winning a silver trophy called The America’s Cup” said the Associated Press.
Two stories intertwine to give Wambaugh plenty of rope for a sailboat suspenser set mostly on dry land. First come the adventures of redheaded Blaze Duvall, a call-girl masseuse who gets involved with snobby bachelor Ambrose Lutterworth Jr., a 63-year-old client who happens to be the Keeper of the Cupnow likely to go to the Australian sailing team, which clearly has the faster boats. Mother-haunted Ambrose loves the very costly Cup as if it were the Holy Grail and lures Blaze into helping him keep it: His plan is to wreck the swifter of the Aussie's two boats while it's in dry dock. Meanwhile, Blaze's speedballing buddy, street hooker Dawn Coyote, flees her pimp, Oliver Mantleberry, but not fast enough to avoid Oliver's knifeblade. When Dawn dies on Blaze's front walk and Blaze disappears, horny vice cop Letch Boggs and aging homicide detective Anne Zorn team up to nab the elusive Oliver. Mission Bay water cops Mick Fortney and his sidekick Leeds are seemingly meant to carry this tale, and they do come upon two bodies in the water (floaters), but their work on water or land has almost nothing to do with the plot's outcomenor do they. Instead, these nonstop jokesters hang about bars where the Aussies blow off stress with booze and boasting. The author's descriptive powers get full play at last when the climax moves aboard a fabulous pleasure yacht.
No dimming of Wambaugh's storytelling skills or flow of smut. But his cop raunch, while amusing, has begun to pale.
"A master storyteller...Wambaugh dazzles." Digby Diehl, Playboy
"Funny, exciting, and ultimately touching." Chicago Tribune
"One of the best novels Joseph Wambaugh has written...Wambaugh is in rare form." San Francisco Chronicle
"Wambaugh is at the top of his form here...raunchy and often hilarious." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
- MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
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Read an Excerpt
Ambrose Lutterworth didn't have to go hunting for Blaze Duvall. She showed up on his doorstep at 7:10 P.M., dressed not in the tailored look he preferred for their encounters and not in the sexy sailboat- casual she'd affected for her cuppie appearances. Blaze was wearing a green, hip- belted leather miniskirt, a shortsleeved, black turtleneck and low-heeled Gucci boots.
For once she was dressed the way she wanted to dress rather than being costumed for men who, in one way or another, were all just clients.
Ambrose pecked her on the cheek and said, "My, you look...different."
"Not your style, I know. But I felt like wearing it."
"No! I mean, you look beautiful. You always look beautiful."
"I'll wear a longer skirt for our dinner date," Blaze reassured him.
"No, you look wonderful. Really."
"Do you have the drug?"
"Yes, let's sit down for a minute."
Ambrose led the way into the living room, where he and Blaze sat side by side on the old sofa. Two bundles wrapped in notebook paper were on the coffee table. He opened one of them carefully and showed her the powder.
"It took me a while to mash the tablets," he said. "If you empty one of these into his drink...By the way, what does he drink?"
"Beer. What else would those guys drink?"
"Okay, one of these will do it. You said he's a very big man?"
"I've done some discreet checking with my pharmacist and my late mother's doctor. I think a gram of this will guarantee that even a big man won't be ready to run machinery the next day."
"What is it?"
"We don't wanna kill him."
"It won't killhim, but he'll have the mother of all hangovers."
"But he'll be okay, right?"
"Do I look like a murderer?"
Blaze hesitated, then said, "No, you don't look anything at all like any murderer I've seen lately."
"Actually it's a little more than a gram," Ambrose said. "I crushed eleven of the hundred-milligram tablets."
"What's in the other paper?"
"Same thing. Just in case something goes wrong with the first one. But, for God's sake, don't give him both!"
"And you have no fears about Simon Cooke?"
"None at all. I owe him."
"You didn't have to...do anything with him, did you?"
"Don't be silly, Ambrose. Can you imagine me in bed with someone like that?"
"No, of course not."
"Okay, I guess I'm ready."
"I'll have the money tomorrow afternoon. Twenty- five thousand. You know, I'm surprised Simon didn't make a demand of good faith. Didn't he ever ask for some money up front to prove our reliability?"
"I wouldn't have given him any front money. I don't trust him that much. But don't worry. I told you, I own him."
"You could own a lot of men, Blaze," Ambrose said.
"Wait up tonight, darling," Blaze said. "I'll phone you with a detailed report as soon as I get back to my hotel."
"Oh, didn't I tell you? Termites. Thirteen hundred bucks a month and I have to cope with termites. We've all had to move out for two days while they fumigate."
"Which hotel are you in?"
"That darling little place on Shelter Island. I selected it so I could be close to the sailor hangouts." Then she added, "And close to you. I like being close to you, Ambrose."
He was touched. He smiled and kissed her lightly, not wanting to smudge her lipstick. But he couldn't resist just touching her lips with the tip of his tongue. Blaze Duvall even tasted young.
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