Ari Ciminon (the 56th Man) appreciates beautiful birds and well-crafted weapons. He yearns for a luxury sedan suitable to his aesthetic palate (a Maserati Quattroporte would suit him nicely). But, after his wife, nothing gives him more reason to celebrate life than fine cuisine. He has adapted reasonably well to fast food since being brought to America to provide Michelin-quality intelligence for the war in Iraq. Yet his discovery of French chef Marie Mumford came as a godsend to his grease-soaked gullet. Her beef bourguignon and simple but elegant soupe de poisson à la rouille invariably leave him mad for more. Her high prices are of small matter to someone of Ari's discerning taste. Of late, however, Madame Mumford has been remiss in her visits to Ari's safe house in Richmond. This is due, in part, to the needs of her husband's parents.
Willy and Ruth Mumford live in a small community near Quantico. Suffering from two different forms of dementia, the isolated couple are cared for by their youngest son, Frank. William Mumford, their older son, is convinced Frank has become involved with shady characters who put his parents at risk. In order to get Power of Attorney over them, William and Marie want to enlist Ari to investigate the situation. If he can provide proof that confirms their fears, the reward will be a year's worth of weekly free meals from the inestimable Madame Mumford. Greedy and hungry to a fault, Ari quickly agrees, though fully aware the job includes changing Willy's Depends.
But Ari is not aware that the situation is far worse than imagined. Frank Mumford has become ensnared in a ring that distributes OxyContin throughout the counties north of Fredericksburg. The drug is legal. The means used to attain it are not. And the ring members are not adverse to using torture and murder in order to maintain control over their territory.
Ari is stretched to the limit as he deals with murderous thugs, demented parents, a wily au pair, a semi-amorous invalid, a daily diet of microwavable sausage biscuits, FBI agents practicing their stalking skills and ground-attack aircraft making practice runs over the neighborhood. The battle between him and the drug gang culminates at a sunrise service on the Potomac River, where he learns everyone and everything is…damned.
It is most disconcerting.
I am the author of more than fifteen novels. I was born and raised in Virginia, where I currently reside. I was First-Place Winner of the Hollins Literary Festival a number of years ago. Among the judges were Thomas (Little Big Man) Berger and R.M.W. Dillard, poet and husband of the writer Annie Dillard. Along with my wife, I have rescued and maintained 22 stray cats, which should tell you something about me (good and bad). Permanently addicted to writing, I am currently at work on "Backside", the sixth in the series of Ari Ciminon (The 56th Man) novels.