Terror Is My Trade
As the H.M.S. Queen Victoria pulls out of New York Harbor, danger encircles Chester Drum. He's sailing for Europe on the largest luxury liner ever built, but it's not big enough to hold the secrets on board - or the men who keep them. And by the time the liner reaches Southampton, she will be missing a few passengers. Drum can only hope he isn't among those who don't make it to shore.
Hired by a NATO functionary as a bodyguard, the private investigator quickly learns his real assignment: protecting his client from a Chicago mobster with dreams of blackmail. Keeping the mafia at bay is tricky enough, but when a State Department colleague ends up in the line of fire, Drum sets his mind on getting even. After all, there is no better spot for vengeance than the icy waters of the open sea.
'Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex.' - The New York Times Book Review
'A cult author for lovers of noir fiction.' - Mónica Calvo-Pascual, author of Chaos and Madness
'A great pulpster ... always one of my favorites.' - Ed Gorman, author of The Poker Club
Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).
Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.
Terror Is My Trade
I FOUND WADE RUMBOUGH pacing the floor of his suite on the main deck of the Victoria. His brother Rufus stood at the porthole, swaying slightly and watching the midtown skyline drift by. The door was hooked back with a curtain drawn across the doorway, as doors usually are on the Queens after embarkation so the stewards can glide in and out with last minute stateroom luggage.
"... if you can't hold your liquor," Wade Rumbough was saying.
"I only had a couple of drinks," his brother answered with a slight whine.
That was when I cleared my throat. Wade Rumbough whirled. He had hair like bleached cornsilk covering his scalp in thick, beautiful waves. His eyes were pale blue under bristling black brows. His nose was straight but a little too long. His jaw was firm and thrusting under a hard handsome mouth. He had been a Congressman from Illinois for two terms until his defeat in the last election.
"How long you been standing there?" he snapped.
"Remind me to knock," I said, "When you need a bodyguard in a hurry."
His face turned pink. "I guess you have a point there."
"Well, I told you how it would be when you hired me. You think you need a bodyguard-that's your business and it's why I'm here. By the time this trip's finished you're going to hate my guts. It will probably be mutual. Sometimes I think a private dick has to be nuts to take on a deal like this."
"I'm sorry you feel that way, Drum."
From the porthole Rufus announced, "We're passing Governors Island now," with small-boy enthusiasm. Wade Rumbough winced.
"And while we're at it," I said, "I just saw the family doctor. She isn't wild about the idea of a bodyguard. She has a notion that the government ought to be able to take care of the head of the Emergency Mission to the NATO Powers. Maybe she's right."
Wade Rumbough frowned, ran a hand through his cornsilk hair and changed the subject. "I'll bet you're wondering how she got to be the family doctor. Her father Curtis McGivern and I were great friends. She's only out of her internship a couple of years, but Curtis died trying to prove a middle-aged doctor with a bad ticker can go on leading a normal life. I feel kind of like a surrogate father to the girl, I guess."
Rufus said, "There's the Shore Road Veterans' Hospital now."
"Why she's along actually," Wade Rumbough went on, "is as a companion to my daughter." Then he smiled ruefully. "But that's sort of beating about the bush, isn't it?" The smile left his face and I knew we were getting down to business. "I realize it looks funny, hiring a bodyguard on a mission like this, but ... Drum, did you know Gino Garda is aboard this ship?"
I said I hadn't known.
"I want you to find out why he's aboard."
"It was in all the papers," Rufus said, still not turning around. "Gino the Judge is being deported, Wade. I thought you knew. Hell," he finished with pathetic self-importance, "I could have told you."
That's right," Wade Rumbough told me, "Garda's being deported to his native Italy. Comes from some hill town between Florence and Bologna. So why go home by way of England? And why go by ship at all? You know anything about Garda, you know he's the original fly-boy. He'd fly from Newark to Long Island if there was commercial service."
"There's a helicopter run a couple of times a day," Rufus said brightly.
"You think it has something to do with your mission?" I asked his brother.
"That's one of the things I'm paying you to find out."
"We used to know Gino," Rufus said. "We knew him pretty well."
"I'll handle this," Wade Rumbough snapped. Rufus' back stiffened, but his eyes never left the big porthole.
"Gino Garda was a friend of-a friend," Wade Rumbough told me. "We had him in for dinner and drinks once or twice, years ago. A lot of water under the bridge since then,