Rick Wendell wouldn’t hurt a flea. The big, jovial owner of the Hang Ten, a surfing-themed gay bay on the boardwalk, was loved by regulars and new arrivals alike. But Rick was found naked and dead, with a local hustler named Larry Johns standing over him, smoking gun in hand. Wendell’s death is ruled as a homicide and Johns is arrested. Everyone thinks it’s a simple open-and-shut case. Everyone except the death claims investigator, Dave Brandstetter.
Brandstetter, a homosexual himself, doesn’t make the same assumptions about the crime scene and easy story it tells. Larry Johns had enough time to escape had he wanted to. Not to mention Johns lacked any discernable motive, especially since the $200 in Wendell’s wallet was left untouched. In an investigation that takes him from sun-scorched hillside ranches to seedy boardwalk bars, Brandstetter gets to the bottom of a twisty mystery in this hardboiled and entertaining portrait of the ’70s gay culture by groundbreaking poet and award-winning crime writer Joseph Hansen.