Jigsaw: A Carroll Quint Mystery
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Jigsaw: A Carroll Quint Mystery

by Jerry Kennealy
     
 

Carroll Quint is the entertainment critic for the San Francisco Bulletin. He doesn't earn a lot of money, but the job does give him a certain place in the city's after-dark world, and he loves seeing the newest play, or the newest movie, and writing about them for his readers.

His job, however, gets harder for him to do when friends of his start showing up

Overview

Carroll Quint is the entertainment critic for the San Francisco Bulletin. He doesn't earn a lot of money, but the job does give him a certain place in the city's after-dark world, and he loves seeing the newest play, or the newest movie, and writing about them for his readers.

His job, however, gets harder for him to do when friends of his start showing up dead, each one in some way connected to the entertainment industry. Someone calling himself Thanatos, the Greek god of death, is sending him e-mails, taunting him with clues from Alfred Hitchcock movies regarding the next target. With each murder, the police become more suspicious of Quint, who they figure is sending the e-mails to himself. Quint must race to find the killer, but danger is closer to him than he realizes.

Jigsaw is the first in a welcome new series from veteran mystery author Jerry Kennealy. It's a story full of suspense and humor, featuring a charming sleuth, that will be sure to please readers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kennealy's breezy first in a new mystery series introduces San Francisco entertainment critic Carroll Quint, whose enemies include far more malevolent people than the movie actors incensed by his negative reviews. A serial killer calling himself Thanatos (the Greek personification of death) e-mails Carroll clues with an Alfred Hitchcock angle. Soon, aging movie star Montgomery Hines, an acquaintance of Carroll's and his one-time starlet mother, suffers a fate lifted from Psycho. After another cryptic e-mail from Thanatos, Carroll gets an urgent call from screenwriter Charlie Leeder, only to later find his corpse being picked clean by birds. Carroll's connections to the victims make him a suspect in the eyes of the police, and he begins to sense he's also tumbled into a Hitchcock plot. Kennealy (The Other Eye) infuses even high stakes moments with a sense of lighthearted fun, and the plot is trickier to puzzle out than one might expect. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
The creator of private-eye Nick Polo (All That Glitters, 1997, etc.) launches a new series, in which a Bay Area newspaper critic meets a killer who's seen too many Hitchcock films. San Francisco Bulletin reviewer Carroll Quint thinks so little of the cryptic e-mail about the murder of aging actor Montgomery Hines that he deletes it, along with the follow-up concerning the demise of Charlie Reeder, whose corpse Carroll discovered when a phone call sent him to San Mateo for a meeting with the long-dead screenwriter. But then he gets to thinking. The e-mailer, calling himself Thanatos after the Greek god of death, had pointed out undeniable Hitchcock connections in both deaths: Monty stabbed through a shower curtain, Charlie brained with a leg of lamb, his body left for the birds. Will Carroll ever hear from him again? Indeed he will, in messages that promise more mayhem echoing motifs from The 39 Steps to Frenzy. It's lucky that Carroll is so close to his coy correspondent, because the live-action cast, from wealthy patron of the arts Gineen Rosenberry, whose ruby necklace the police think Carroll pinched, to Bulletin restaurant reviewer Terry Greco, Carroll's latest girlfriend, don't have much impact. Nor does Thanatos, when he finally puts in an off-screen appearance. On the plus side, it's fun to see Carroll squeezed between two cops who like him for two different crimes, and there's lots of trivia for Hitchcock buffs.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312354756
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/17/2007
Series:
Carroll Quint Mysteries Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

San Francisco

The frescoed ceilings were ten feet high and the room was only slightly smaller than a football field, yet the din of the crowd made intimate conversation difficult. Jonathan Ashley, an elderly, woolly-haired actor, was nearly shouting into my ear. "It's a shame about what happened to Montgomery Hines, isn't it, Quint?"

"What happened to Monty?" I said. I'd been in New York for several days, reviewing off-Broadway shows. Hines was an actor who had never quite made it in Hollywood, and had come to San Francisco to work in local plays and commute down to Southern California for the occasional commercial or bit part.

"He was murdered," Ashley said. "In his shower. Early this morning. Stabbed to death." He grimaced. "The papers said it was very bloody."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said sincerely. Hines hadn't been much of an actor, but I had respect for anyone who had the guts to get up on stage and perform in front of a camera or live audience.

"I hope the way you roasted his performance in the last play he was in had nothing to do with it," Ashley said with a lopsided grin.

"Me too," I responded and moved off, weaving my way past tuxedos and silk gowns until I came to the buffet table. I filled my plate with tiger shrimp, fried ginger pork, and miniature meatballs stuffed with garlic and cheddar cheese, then added some crab-filled cherry tomatoes. By now my plate was stuffed and I had to get another one to hold the oysters and cold tagliarini salad. I did a balancing act with the plates and managed to wedge the stem of a champagne glass between my thumb and forefinger while looking for a space large enough to give me some elbow room.

Truth be told, the food was the main reason for my being at the party. The fact that I love to eat and hate to cook induces me to attend so many "show parties." When you consider the meager salary that the San Francisco Bulletin pays me as an entertainment critic, I'm more or less forced to go to the damn parties or risk starvation.

Tonight's affair was less of a bore than most because of the hostess, Gineen Rosenberry, the person most responsible for bringing the current revival of Camelot to San Francisco. Gineen is one of those all too uncommon individuals who combine enormous wealth with a strong sense of social responsibility. The fact that she is beautiful, charming, intelligent, and forgiving of small misfortunes made her unique indeed.

Of course, if I had known that the price for this meal would be accusations of theft and murder, and having the hell kicked out of me, I'd have hastened to the nearest Taco Bell.

I found a reasonably sized clearing alongside one of Gineen's latest acquisitions, a French art deco three-seat shoeshine stand that had begun its life in a Paris train station. It had been refurbished, with new black leather seats, handrails of gleaming steel, and intricate burnished bronze steps.

Two eager-looking men in matching double-breasted tuxedos occupied the outer seats, their attention riveted on the blonde in a chili-pepper-red dress with peekaboo shoulder holes wedged in the middle seat. The blonde appeared to have done everything possible to be a Britney Spears look-alike. She had succeeded amazingly well.

I slipped one of my plates onto the floor and went to work on the other one.

Gineen Rosenberry spotted me and glided over. Glided being the proper description—Gineen did not walk, shuffle, or stride; she definitely glided. She was wearing an emerald green silk dress that perfectly matched the thumb-sized single stone dangling from a platinum chain around her neck. Her honey-colored hair was styled in a fashionable upsweep. Copper-colored eyes under broad-arched brows sparkled at me. Someone had dubbed her the Satin Widow, due to the fact that she fancied satin sheets and her last two enormously wealthy husbands had died in bed, reportedly with smiles on their lips.

"Carroll, darling," she said, the trace of a South Carolinian accent still present in her seductively husky voice, "are you getting enough to eat?"

"Barely," I replied, wiping the remains of some of the shrimp barbecue sauce from my fingers before extending a hand. "You look gorgeous, Gineen."

"Thank you, dear." She glanced briefly at the two penguins and the Britney impersonator. "Ah, youth," she sighed. "How is that man?"

"That man" was my father, John Quint, who was what one of an unending line of female companions called "cat nip to us girls." He played piano at some of the posher restaurants around town, and at social gatherings such as this one. Somehow he'd been beaten out of this gig by a longhaired young man with a mournful face, who had been playing Gershwin since I'd arrived. Gershwin was losing.

"He's fine, Gineen, just fine."

"Is he," she paused and fluttered the fingers of one hand, "with anyone now?"

"Not that I know of." Though they'd been divorced some fifteen years, Dad still lived in the flat directly above my mother's. They often shared bread and breakfast—but nothing else, at least as far as I knew.

Her cheeks dimpled. "Good. Very good. I was so sorry to read about Montgomery Hines's death. The poor man. And the way that he died." Gineen placed a hand gently on my arm. "Carroll, have you thought that perhaps—"

It wasn't a sound of any kind that caused Gineen to stop in midsentence, it was the lack of same. The volume suddenly dropped to whisper decibels, a sure sign that "someone" had entered the room.

That someone turned out to be Peter Liddell, once an undeniable "movie star," whose track record of three Academy Award nominations was being lapped by disastrous outings in his last nine or ten films. Bombs would be a kind description. He had sunk to appearing in a TV miniseries and was now attempting to get back the adulation he thought he richly deserved by slipping into the slippers of King Arthur in the umpteenth revival of Camelot. Even if you didn't know he was a star, you'd know he was "someone" because he was smoking a cigarette. Indoors! Which was about as politically incorrect in San Francisco as being a Republican. There are more female priests in the Vatican than there are Republicans in the city. A hulking man in a shiny black suit and sunglasses was at Liddell's side, trying to look like a secret service agent.

Jules Moneta, Gineen's business partner—a self-described entertainment attorney—hurried over and gave me a lewd wink. Moneta was a slim, perfectly tailored man with dark wavy hair who made no attempt to disprove rumors that he was gay. "Darling, time to go meet the star," he said with an exaggerated lisp. His voice pattern changed to suit the occasion; he could sound something like George C. Scott doing General Patton during negotiations with actors, union agents, and bankers. Moneta was attempting to transform the Bay Area into Hollywood North, by using the abandoned U.S. Navy hangars on Treasure Island as movie and TV studios.

They rushed to meet Liddell and I went back to some serious eating. The sound level gradually built back up again and I watched the pseudo-Ms. Spears's head swivel back and forth between the tuxedo twins. She paused in midswivel once, gave me an appraising look, then went back to her adoring companions.

I was about to exchange the empty plate in my hand for the full one near the tip of my shoe when I saw Gineen Rosenberry leading Peter Liddell in my direction. The crowd parted like the Red Sea had for Moses as Gineen guided Liddell by his elbow. Maybe the hulking bodyguard alongside Liddell had something to do with that.

On screen Liddell still cut a dashing figure: well over six feet in height, his suntanned features included a chiseled chin, aristocratic nose, yellow-blond hair, broad shoulders, and flat stomach.

On stage, at least from a few rows back, the image remained pretty much the same. Up close and personal there were some visible flaws. The shoulders slumped, the stomach protruded, that glowing tan was more a nicotine-stain color, and a network of veins clouded the nose.

He was wearing a houndstooth sport coat and yellow turtleneck sweater, and had a chocolate brown scarf draped around his shoulders like a cloak.

Liddell kept his face frozen in a smirk as the ever-pleasant Gineen introduced him to the assemblage, an eclectic group of high society regulars, members of the Camelot cast and crew, local actors, and a few low class media types, such as myself. A vintage ebony cigarette holder was positioned in the corner of Liddell's mouth, jutting upward à la the way Ralph Bellamy portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt in Sunrise at Campobello.

Actually the cigarette holder was in the position that Mr. Roosevelt himself was famous for; however, when your job is that of a reviewer, you always go with the actor.

"And this," Gineen said with an ingratiating smile, "is Carroll Quint, of the San Francisco Bulletin."

Liddell's cigarette holder dropped to half-mast. He blew a wobbly smoke ring in my direction. "The critic?" he said, pronouncing the word as if it were a highly contagious disease.

"That's right," I answered, trying to sound as if I was proud of my line of work.

Liddell leaned forward. The smell of gin came with him. "You reviewed Four on an Island, didn't you?"

"Yes," I said, not at all surprised that Liddell, who, to the best of my knowledge, had never made a movie or acted in a play in San Francisco before, was aware of the review. Some actors may have trouble remembering the name of their latest wife or coke dealer, their own phone number, or current address, but reviews, especially if they're not favorable, they can quote in their entirety.

"You didn't like the picture, did you, Carroll?" Liddell said, drawing out my first name as if it had four syllables instead of two.

The movie had been a financial and artistic flop, a heist adventure shot in Italy, with the entire crew performing as if they'd made a heavy dent in the local Chianti supplies prior to going before the cameras. "Not one of my favorites, Mr. Liddell."

"Carroll," he said loudly, in his best Shakespearean tones. "I always thought that was a pussy's name."

Liddell's sexual preferences were well known: "Boy, girl, man, woman, bicycle. He doesn't care as long as there are moving parts" was the way one Hollywood know-it-all had described his libido. "Since when could you tell the difference?" I said.

It seemed to take Liddell a second or two to get my meaning, then his watery blue eyes turned cold. He squared his shoulders, drew his scarf around his neck, then slapped me across the face, causing my glasses to fly off.

If a mother, with all good intentions, saddles her only male offspring with a name like Carroll, because it means Champion in Gaelic, and said offspring starts wearing glasses at an early age, and lives in the Mission District, the oldest and toughest neighborhood in San Francisco, he learns very early in life that other people are going to make fun of him, so he is left with two choices: run away, or fight like hell. I wasn't very fast on my feet. My father had taught me the basics of fisticuffs, the rest I'd learned on the streets.

I put my arms out in front of me to block Liddell's next punch. Without my glasses the world takes on a fuzzy appearance, like a French impressionist painting shown on an out-of-focus TV set. I easily slipped his punch, then sent an open palm into his chest with enough authority to knock him to the ground.

Liddell's bodyguard stepped in and landed a real blow along the side of my head. I swung blindly and made contact with something.

There were shouts and screams. Someone grabbed my arm and before I could pull away, Gineen Rosenberry said, "My God, Carroll, you're bleeding. And look at poor Peter. I hope you didn't hurt him."

Copyright © 2007 by Jerry Kennealy. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Jerry Kennealy has worked as a fireman, policeman, and private investigator. He is the author of the Nick Polo mystery series. He has also written The Vatican Connection and Chasing the Devil under the pen name James Brant. He lives in San Bruno, California.

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