Eureka. It's what you say when you strike gold. It's also a town in California where the truth might be buried forever. In New York Times bestselling author William Diehl's thrilling, accomplished new novel, the seamy past of America's most glamorous state lies in this deceptively peaceful area, one hundred miles north of Los Angeles. It was the lawless place from which young, rugged Thomas Culhane escaped to fight World War I. Now it's a place where, two decades later, police detective Zeke Bannon investigates a death that seems a sad accident. Until you look a bit closer. The year is 1941. Verna Wilensky has been electrocuted in her bathtub, leaving a lower-middle-class life, no survivors, and a bank account packed with almost a hundred thousand dollars. Mysterious checks have consistently come to her for more than twenty years, most drawn from a bank in San Pietro, a town once known as Eureka. Eureka was a town that used to be a bootlegger's paradise and a gangster's dream.
HFollowing a four-year hiatus after the somewhat lackluster Reign in Hell, the third volume of the Martin Vail thriller series, legions of this bestselling author's readers will herald this triumphant comeback as his best novel ever. Combining the psychological chiaroscuro of L.A. Confidential with the dramatic sweep and stylish noir of Chinatown, this labyrinthine, multigenerational epic scrolls across the still-lawless frontier landscape of California. At the turn of the 20th century, Eureka, the railhead Sodom and Gomorrah of Southern California, is replete with whorehouses, gambling, dark political intrigues and steamy liaisons. Fast-forwarding through WWI to the last days of WWII, the plot examines the coming of age of this seedy patch. Recovering in 1945 from WWII wounds that earned him a Silver Star, LAPD Det. Zee Bannon is handed a briefcase containing files concerning a mysterious woman found dead in her bathtub. The case was left unresolved in 1941, just before he went off to war, and Bannon is unable to discover the victim's history before her move to L.A. in 1924. But her sizable bank account and a trail of anonymous cashier's checks eventually lead back to Eureka (since renamed San Pietro), where now legendary Sheriff Thomas Culhane's bid for state governor is at stake. Infidelity, murder, murky secrets, a deeply affecting love story and an old-fashioned showdown will keep fans spellbound right up to the fully satisfying if not so surprising denouement. Vividly cinematic, rich in atmosphere and peopled with believable characters, this novel serves notice that Diehl is one of the best thriller writers working today. (Mar.) Forecast: Expect this winner to hit bestseller lists early and hard. Southern regional author appearances and a teaser chapter in the mass market reissue of Primal Fear will further spur sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Eureka by William Diehl
If you're a cop, the best thing you can hope for is to have a partner like Ski Agassi. That, and a beautiful lady who loves you. I was thinking about both, lying on my hospital bed watching morphine drip into my arm. It started as a small bubble, very slowly turned into a teardrop, then silently fell into the tube. I was concentrating on that process, wondering how long it would take for that drop to weave its way through my veins and into my brain when the doctor came in.
His name was Meisel, a short man with alert eyes and graying hair and a jovial attitude that helped, considering the situation. I had a hazy recollection of having met him briefly when I had arrived at the L.A. hospital the night before. He had a large envelope under his arm.
"Morning, Sergeant Bannon," he said. "How's the pain?"
"I'm kinda numb all over."
"Good. If it becomes a problem, call the nurse and she'll give that little knob a twist and make it go away."
"What do they call you, by the way?"
"Like the letter zee?"
"Okay, Zee, here's where we stand. They did a pretty good job back at Walter Reed. Basically your left leg is fine. And they've got the bones in that right leg lined up. The ankle is still a mess but we'll take care of that in due time. The good news is that I'm the best there is at this kind of thing. I'll get you back on your feet without so much as a limp. The downside is it's going to take time."
"How does six months sound?"
I didn't know how to answer that. It had already been three, six more sounded like forever.