While at a reading of a Kurt Vonnegut biography, private
investigator Jim Wolf senses someone watching him. He catches sight of a young
woman, maybe mid-twenties, who is short and has straight, straw-colored blond
hair, granny glasses, and freckles. Her figure is more boyish than that of a
grown woman. She wears jeans and a man’s white dress shirt, and a cheap
necklace of amber-colored beads with silver disks circles her neck. Her name is
They escape the crowded bookstore and head for Wolf’s
boat—a simple romantic rendezvous that Emily assures Wolf they both want. In
the morning Wolf wakes as two Oakland detectives land on his deck. Emily had
left during the night, and their simple tryst has suddenly become complicated. Emily
is dead—and Wolf is charged with her murder. With his own life in jeopardy, Wolf
must find the killer. His quest leads him to the Cal campus, a bearded expert
on Vonnegut who was sleeping with Emily, and a retro-sixties bash called the
Commie Café, where the past becomes the murderous present.
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