BAYOU CITY BURNING – D.B. Borton
Houston, Texas – 1961
It's May 1961 in Houston and the weather is warming up, jobs are scarce, and private investigator Harry Lark has alimony and orthodontic bills to pay. Then a guy shows up in Harry's stuffy office, mopping his brow from the heat, asking Harry to find and tail two men from NASA who are touring the area. Wondering what this out-of-towner wants with this information, but needing to pay his son's orthodontist, Harry agrees. With help from two of his friends, Harry tracks the men to a fancy hotel, and then they pile into a car with one of Houston's most powerful businessmen. They follow them out to the countryside, aware that another vehicle was also close behind. What the heck is going on here? Harry does his job but wonders why the suit who hired him is interested in what these two scientists are up to.
Dizzy (Desdemona) Lark, Harry's daughter and two of her friends, B.D. and Mel , have set up a lost and found business in her mother's garage (Harry and Dizzy's mom, a professor of literature at Rice University, are divorced). The girls have been collecting items that they've found in the neighborhood, such as a kickball, barrettes, a retainer, hubcap, and anything else they can find. Then they “sell” these items for a small sum. They even get called to find a boy's cat, which they do, and get all sorts of good publicity from that event. Dizzy and company are then stunned when seven-year-old Sissy Heffelman asks them to find her daddy. There was a terrible train wreck a few weeks before, and Sissy's father was listed among the dead, and buried shortly afterwards. But when an expensive Barbie doll arrives in the mail anonymously for Sissy's birthday, she is convinced that her father is still alive. Dizzy and friends decide to help.
In the meantime, the man who hired Harry to follow the two guys from Virginia turns up dead in Harry's office. Lots of other weird, and dangerous, things begin happening to Harry as well as in the town. Houston ran the mob out of town years ago, so it's been a quiet, peaceful place since. But suddenly there are issues with minorities, and something is going on with the union down at the port. Harry is wondering if there is something underhanded going on and is it connected to the dead guy? Once Harry and Dizzy start comparing notes on each of their “projects”, there seems to be a familiar vein running through both issues.
BAYOU CITY BURNING is a terrific mystery loaded with humor, lots of excitement, and fascinating, well written characters. Dizzy is her father's daughter with his sense of humor, smart alecky comebacks, and braver than most twelve-year-olds! She is also kind, loves to read, and tolerates her father forgetting to go watch her play ball. Harry may seem rough around the edges, because being a PI isn't for the faint hearted, but he loves his children, and he wants a better future for them. Be prepared to laugh out loud throughout this excellent tale. It was a fun read and I would love to hear more from Dizzy and Harry, which is why this is a Perfect 10 book.