Freelance writer Taggert Roper does informal investigating to keep himself in liquor and his dog in kibble. The same afternoon that he gets a rejection slip for his literary western novel, college student Amy Matson shows up, asking him to look into the affairs of her murdered mother. Lorene Matson worked as a prostitute but also had a mysterious source of income, her ``insurance policy,'' which Amy hopes to cash in on. Tag figures that Lorene had a blackmail scheme going, and, indeed, finds that her personal papers contain a bombshell: Amy's father is televangelist Jack Redfield. But he can find no sign of blackmail or indication that Jack wanted to dispose of Lorene; he supports his daughter voluntarily. With some help from a pair of colorful friends, Rita Ninekiller, a newspaperwoman, and Wiley Harmon, a cop who is more proficient than strictly honest, Tag burrows into the lives of Jack and Lorene, discovering a secret darker than he ever imagined. By lacing this hard-boiled mystery with wry humor and delivering enough plot twists (including a second corpse) to grip the reader's interest, Sanders ( The Wild Blue and the Gray ) makes Roper's Tulsa, Okla., an entertaining place to spend a few hours. (Feb.)
Tag Roper was a Tulsa reporter, but he quit after his novel was published. It sold modestly. The second one went nowhere. Broke and working on number three, Tag does things for money--sort of Travis McGee-like salvage work. Amy Matson, a student at an exclusive eastern college, hires Tag to look into the death of her mother, a local hooker. Mom kept Amy in tuition and spending money while hinting she had an "insurance policy." With Mom dead, Amy--accustomed to the good life--wants Tag to figure out the insurance policy. Sounds to Tag like blackmail, and that thread, when tugged, leads right to televangelist Jack Redfield. Tag soon realizes he's become the hunted instead of the hunter. Only with the help of his native American girlfriend and a crooked cop can he survive and nail the killer. Great dialogue and wonderful, witty characters make this a must for suspense fans looking for buried treasure.