Langford "Ford" Morgan
& Roy Shepherd
Created by Michael Collins

In 1995's The Cadillac Cowboy, Michael Collins gave us not one, but two intriguing characters to add to our list. While neither "FORD" MORGAN or ROY SHEPHERD are actually private eyes, per se, they're both far too good at what they do to be dismissed as mere amateurs. And while Morgan is the ostensible protagonist here, it is the startling contrasts (and similarites) between these two strong characters that drives this book, a compelling, bittersweet meditation on honour, courage, duty, corruption, greed and love.

Langford "Ford" Morgan has been around. He's a taciturn ex-CIA op, ex-soldier, and "ex-go-between in the drug wars from Southeast Asia to Colombia," in his mid-forties living the good--if somewhat quiet--life in Costa Rica, with a lady friend, Lareina, when a call comes from an ex-wife. Rachel, now married to big shot tycoon Ralph Baliol and living in Santa Barbara--says her spoiled son Johnny has been charged in the attempted murder of her husband. Bored and feeling somewhat obligated, packs his gear and Lareina and heads up to help. It soon becomes clear that Johnny is innocent, but Morgan discovers there is indeed someone trying to kill Ralph. Worse, it turns out there are plenty of suspects, since Ralph seems to make a habit of shafting just about everyone he deals with. Before long, Ford is wrapped up in big money stock swindles, rape, a logging company intent on clearcutting the endangered redwood forests of Northern California's Lost Coast, murder cover-ups, radical environmentalists and a damsel in distress who may not need rescuing half as much as Morgan does.

In the course of his adventures, Morgan runs up against Roy Rogers Shepherd, the "Cadillac Cowboy" of the title. Shepherd is Baliol's hired man, a free-spirited adventurer and alleged "bodyguard" with an even more checkered past than Morgan's, a Vietnam vet with a criminal past and a string of arrests behind him, who favors cowboy hats and tools around in a massive caddy with cow horns on the hood. He moves in and out of the story like a menacing ghost until finally, working opposite sides of the case (and the law), Morgan and Shepherd finally confront each other, and discover who the real enemy is.

Author Michael Collins (Dennis Lynds) is best known as the creator of Dan Fortune, the one-armed private eye, whose often gloomy take on life is shared by both Morgan and Shepherd. Collins is an Edgar winner and the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the Private Eye Writers of America. In the passionate and angry slow burn of The Cadillac Cowboy, Collins raises the stakes (once again), and ultimately presents a blistering, unflinching look not just at the politics and culture we live in as a society, but at the personal lies we tell ourselves to survive.

Highly recommended.




Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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