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Merry Christmas, Murdock

Merry Christmas, Murdock

by Robert J. Ray

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Christmastime is here, and weary-but-wise private-eye Matt Murdock is short on funds and holiday spirit. There are no white Christmases in Newport Beach, California, but there are soggy ones. One rainy evening at the Xanadu Mall, a down-on-his-luck mystery writer named Marvin Holly meets a runaway teenager and autographs her book. As they exit the mall, they encounter


Christmastime is here, and weary-but-wise private-eye Matt Murdock is short on funds and holiday spirit. There are no white Christmases in Newport Beach, California, but there are soggy ones. One rainy evening at the Xanadu Mall, a down-on-his-luck mystery writer named Marvin Holly meets a runaway teenager and autographs her book. As they exit the mall, they encounter the headlights of a speeding car. In the aftermath the author is missing and the girl is in a coma. On an earlier case, Murdock befriended a precocious teenager named Cindy. Cindy is the product of a broken home, a very wealthy one, and her people would rather break Murdock's face than accept his help finding out what happened to her biological father-the missing author from Xanadu mall. Meanwhile Murdock has been hired to find out why Heather, the daughter of a sexy but tightly wound senator named Jane Blasingame, was injured in a hit-and-run. Is she the teenager last seen with Cindy's father? And was Heather really a member of the notorious San Diego gang, a group of wholesome looking youngsters who prey on unsuspecting salesmen? Cindy's mother and the fabulously wealthy Duke family-the clan of Cindy's uncle-were not fans of Marvin Holly's work ... or the man himself. They certainly don't want Murdock to locate him. How are Holly's disappearance and the hit-and-run connected? Will the lovely senator fall for Murdock's rugged charms? If the holidays don't kill Murdock then this case will.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What a find author Robert J. Ray is …. Perhaps best of all, Mr. Ray has the rare ability to build tension bit by bit by bit and keep much of this throughout the last two-thirds of the book, almost without pause .... A crackerjack piece of plotting and writing and unhesitatingly recommended."

--Mystery News

L. A. private eye Matt Murdock is back, celebrating a holiday in decidedly unfestive fashion in Merry Christmas, Murdock. Here the past rises up before Murdock in two ways.

Cindy Duke, a teen-ager who had maybe saved his life a couple of years earlier by driving him out of a burning canyon, asks him to find her father. He teaches in Wisconsin and came to L. A. in response to Cindy's cry for help, raged at his ex-wife, battered her brother's car with a baseball bat, ranged through a shopping mall in a failing search for Cindy, and disappeared.

Meanwhile, another teen-ager, Heather Blasingame, lies in a coma from a hit-and-run encounter with a vehicle at that same mall. She's the daughter of Jane Blasingame, feisty Texas state senator, and the senator (though with considerable reluctance) hires Murdock to supplement what seems an inept police investigation.

These two cases are of course related, and powerful interests -- not only Cindy's grandfather Wheeler Duke and Duke Construction -- are willing to go to about any lengths to keep Matt's nose out of these matters.

Vivid, active tale.

-- THE ARMCHAIR REVIEWER, Allen J. Hubin, Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 12, No. 4, Fall 1990.

Bloody Murdock: "The story never stops and the lushly decadent southern California life was never more so." --Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Ray's fourth Murdock novel, teenager Heather Blasingame is comatose after a hit-and-run ``accident'' at a glitzy California shopping mall. Her mother, a Texas state senator, gets no satisfaction from local police and hires the semi-scruffy Murdock to dig into a possible coverup. Murdock also helps poor-little-rich-girl Cindy of the powerful Duke family to find her missing father. Uncovering a connection between these cases, and also Cindy's uncle's penchant for child molestation, Murdock is threatened, his house is torched and one of the girls is murdered. (He also has a fling with ``Senator Jane.'') The body count is high at the melodramatic end after we meet a Mafia don, Murdock's flashy Vietnam-vet buddy Blazer and the tough, not unsympathetic Duke patriarch. Hard-boiled, soft-centered Murdock approaches sentimentality and some characters are shallow but Ray ( The Hit Man Cometh ) keeps the story moving smoothly. (Dec.)

Product Details

Coffeetown Enterprises, Inc.
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

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Read an Excerpt

My answering machine clicked on, the red light winking like a gnat's eyeball. I poured in the beef stock and set the fire on simmer and turned down the volume under Callas and sipped red wine while I waited for the message. Some old flame, I thought, happily married, inviting me over for a chummy family Xmas. Or some Scrooge of a bill collector, grousing at me to pay up or else. Or maybe a rich client. Merry Christmas, Murdock.

"Lancelot," said the voice of Wally St. Moritz. "Wally here. Are you monitoring, dear boy?"

I picked up the phone, heard that hollow echo of the recorder bouncing back at me. "Hey, Professor. I'm on. Where are you?"

"El Toro General."

"Ten days too early for your annual blues," I said. "So they must be treating your tennis elbow."

"Ho-ho-ho, as Santa says to greedy little mall monsters. Can you motor down here? I think I've unearthed a client."

"One with money?"

"And trouble." Wally paused. "All it needs is your presence. Your inimitable persuasive powers."

I stirred the soup. "Who's the client?"

"A state senator from Texas, with a wounded child, who is most impatient with local police procedure."

"I identify with the impatient part. What kind of wound?"

"A hit-and-run."

"Ouch. Where'd it happen?"

"Xanadu Mall, in the parking lot."

"What time?"

"Last evening, nineish."

It hadn't been big enough to make the evening news. "Xanadu's in the sheriff's jurisdiction. What are they doing?"

"Not much. That's why I'm calling you."

"Does the senator know? Or is this your idea?"

"The Senator became interested when I explained you knew people on the inside."

"Used to know."

Wally sighed. "Be resourceful, Matthew. I assured the Senator you could help."

It didn't feel holiday hopeful. Josh McBride, my deputy pal inside the sheriff's office, had retired to Idaho, where he was running a fishing camp for the tourists. The deputies I'd met on the street were aging jock hotdogs who still hugged dreams about making the jump into pro ball.

I eyed my soup and took another sip of wine. Inside, it was warm and toasty. Outside, it was nasty, cold, and wet. Problem: I needed the work. I'd had a gritty six days in San Diego, doing reference checks for Tritonics, Inc., a software company that was hiring a vice-president for marketing at a base salary of $120,000, plus perks and fringes. Out of four candidates, three had come up dirty as Hell's Angels at an Oakland beer bust. The dirtiest had been handpicked by the Tritonics comptroller, a tightass named Binder, who was busily seeding his little dukedom with fawning supporters. Tritonics owed me two grand for my work, but since checks had to be signed by Binder, it would be Easter before I saw the money. Meanwhile, I had $104 in the checking account and Christmas was closing fast.

Would the Senator be my Santa?

Meet the Author

ROBERT J. RAY is the author of nine novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, Dial "M" for Murdock, Merry Christmas, Murdock, Murdock Cracks Ice, and Murdock Tackles Taos. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing at bobandjackswritingblog.com. A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa's Bakery and Café in Seattle. For more information, go to murdock.camelpress.com.

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