A. Fair: All Grass Isn't Green

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A. Fair All Grass Isn't Green
  • Название:
    All Grass Isn't Green
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    William Morrow
  • Жанр:
    Детектив / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1970
  • Город:
    New York
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    978-9997511973
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
  • Ваша оценка:
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All Grass Isn't Green: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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It all started with Milton Carling Calhoun, a wealthy young tycoon, who hired Bertha Cool and Donald Lam to find a writer named Colburn Hale. The reason? Calhoun just wanted to talk to Hale. The search begins in the novelist’s pad and leads to a beautiful woman named Nanncie, who in turn leads to Mexico, marijuana and murder. As the plot thickens and twists, it forms a rope that nearly lands around Calhoun’s neck.

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A. A. Fair

All Grass Isn’t Green

1

The squeaky swivel chair in which Bertha Cool shifted her hundred and sixty-five pounds of weight seemed to share its occupant’s indignation.

“What do you mean, we can’t do the job?” Bertha asked, the diamonds on her hands making glittering arcs of light as she banged her palms down on the desk.

The potential client, whose card gave his name simply as M. Calhoun, said, “I’ll be perfectly frank... er, uh, Miss Cool — or is it Mrs. Cool?”

“It’s Mrs.,” snapped Bertha Cool. “I’m a widow.”

“All right,” Calhoun went on smoothly, “I need the services of a first-class, highly competent detective agency. I asked a friend who is usually rather knowledgeable in such matters and he said the firm of Cool and Lam would take care of me.

“I come up here. I find that the Cool part of the firm is a woman, and that Lam is...” Calhoun looked at me and hesitated.

“Go ahead,” I said.

“Well, frankly,” Calhoun blurted out, “I doubt if you could take care of yourself if the going got rough. You won’t weigh over a hundred and forty pounds soaking wet. My idea of a detective is a big man, aggressive, competent — heavy-fisted if the occasion requires.”

Bertha once more shifted her weight. Her chair creaked indignantly. “Brains,” she said.

“How’s that?” Calhoun asked, puzzled.

“Brains is what we sell you,” Bertha Cool said. “I run the business end. Donald runs the outside end. The little bastard has brains and don’t ever forget it.”

“Oh, yes... ah... doubtless,” Calhoun said.

“Perhaps,” I told him, “you’ve been reading too mystery stories.”

He had the grace to smile at that.

I said, “You’ve had a chance to look us over. If don’t look good to you, that door works both ways.”

“Now, just a minute,” Bertha Cool interposed, her diamond-hard eyes appraising our skeptical client. “You’re looking for a detective agency. We can give you results. That’s our forte. What the hell do you want?”

“Well, I want results,” Calhoun admitted. “That’s what I’m looking for.”

“Do you know what the average private detective is?” Bertha Cool rasped. “A cop who’s been retired or kicked out, a great big, beefy, bull-necked human snowplow with big fists, big feet and a musclebound brain.

“People like to read stories about private detective who shove teeth down people’s throats and solve murders. You tie up with an agency that is run by people who are all beef and no brains and you’ll just ante up fifty dollars a day for every operative they put on the case — and they’ll manage to load it up with two or three operatives if they think you can pay the tab. They’ll keep charging you fifty bucks a day per operative until your money runs out. You may get results. You may not.

“With this agency we have one operative — that’s Donald. I told you before and I’ll tell you again, he’s a brainy little bastard. He’ll charge you fifty dollars a day plus expenses and he’ll get results.”

“You can afford to pay fifty dollars a day?” I asked, trying to get the guy on the defensive.

“Of course I can,” he snorted. “Otherwise I wouldn’t, be here.”

I caught Bertha’s eye. “All right, you’re here,” I told him.

He hesitated a long while, apparently trying to reach a decision. The he said, “Very well, this is a job that calls for brains more than brawn. Perhaps you can do it.”

I said. “I don’t like to work for a man who, is a little doubtful right at the start. Why don’t you get an agency which measures up more to your expectations?”

Bertha Cool glared at me.

Calhoun said thoughtfully, “I want to find a man.”

“How old?” I asked.

“About thirty,” he said. “Perhaps thirty-two.”

“Give me a description.”

“He’s about five eleven, a hundred and eighty-five or so. He has wavy hair, blue eyes, and has a magnetic personality.”

“Picture?” I asked.

“No picture.”

“Name?”

“Hale — H-a-l-e. The first name is Colburn. He signs his name C. E. Hale. I understand his close friends call him Cole.”

“Last address?”

“Eight-seventeen Billinger Street. He had an apartment there, number forty-three. He left very suddenly. I meant there, I don’t think he took anything with him except a suitcase.”

“Rent?”

“I believe it is paid up until the twentieth.”

“Occupation?”

“I am given to understand, he is novelist.”

“That location,” I said, “is a bohemian neighborhood. There are lots of writers and artists living there.”

“Exactly,” Calhoun said.

“May I ask why you want to find Hale?”

“I want to talk with him.”

“Just what do we do?”

“Locate the guy. Don’t leave a back trail. Just give me the place where he is at present.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s all.”

“And Hale is a novelist?”

“I believe he is working on a novel. In fact, I know he is, but as to the nature of his writing I can tell you nothing. I know that he has a theory that when you talk about a story you either have a sympathetic or an unsympathetic audience.

“If the audience is unsympathetic it weakens your self confidence. If the audience is sympathetic you are encouraged to talk too much and tell too much, which dissipates your creative energy in conversation rather than writing.”

“He is, then, secretive?”

“Reticent,” he said.

I looked the guy over — casual slacks that were well pressed, a sports coat that had cost money, a short-sleeved Dacron shirt with a bolo tie. The stone in the bolo tie guide was a vivid green.

He saw me looking at it “Chrysocolla,” he said proudly.

“What’s chrysocolla?” I asked.

“A semiprecious stone which ounce for ounce is probably worth more than gold. It is very rare. I might describe it as being a copper-stained agate. That doesn’t exactly describe it, but it gives you an idea.”

“Are you a rock hound?” I asked.

“So-so,” he said.

“Find the stone yourself?”

“No, I traded for it. It’s a beautiful specimen.”

“When did you last see this Hale?” I asked.

Bertha said, “Now, just a minute, before we get down to brass tacks, we’d better finish the preliminaries.”

“Preliminaries?” Calhoun asked.

“Retainer,” Bertha said.

He turned from me to study her.

“How much?”

“Three fifty.”

“And what does that buy me?”

“Services of the agency, Donald doing the legwork at fifty bucks a day plus expenses. I furnish the executive management.”

“At another fifty bucks a day?” he asked.

“It’s all included in the one package,” she said.

He regarded Bertha, sitting there as stiff as a roll of barbed wire, and somewhere around sixty-five, give or take a few years.

“Very well,” he said.

“Got your checkbook handy?” Bertha asked.

He didn’t like being pushed. He hesitated again, then reached in his pocket and brought out a billfold.

No one said anything while he hitched his chair over to the comer of Bertha Cool’s desk and started counting out fifty-dollar bills.

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