The William Bayer Mystery Collection, Volume 1
By William Bayer
SWITCH – Book One of the Janek Series
At first the two killings seem unrelated. The lonely call girl murdered on New York City’s West Side had never met the prim schoolteacher slain across town in the far safer preserve of the city’s Upper East Side. But someone has decapitated them both and switched their heads: a deed that is apparently its own motive, a crime as pointless as it was perfectly executed.
Detective Frank Janek immediately knows that he has entered the realm of a lethal madness. Middle-aged, divorced, a man centered solely on his work, Janek is practiced in piercing the minds of the criminals he pursues. In the absence of clues from the killer, he has only the awful symmetry of the crime to work with, only his own finely honed intuition. “This was a crime conceived in the shadows,” he thinks, “There was precision in it, and passion. Concentrated rage and a love of order. A need to beautify. Even some strange, unfathomable, as yet uncatalogued species of love.”
The challenge—to become as precise, as creative, as cold as his prey—begins to take its toll. The tenuous psychological thread leads Janek back into the unsettled past—not only the killer’s but his own. His own passion and rage and unresolved love. The love he bore for the man who trained him—a retired cop whose apparent suicide he has shied from investigating too closely, the passion for justice that has made him a marked man within the police fraternity. The rage he feels at ancient crimes that have finally burst into full and terrifying flower. And most of all, the new love he feels for the mysterious woman in whom all these strands of the past seem to converge. It is Janek’s love for Caroline that leads him at last to a blinding vision of the purpose behind the grisly double homicide.
Too late, he realizes that the case of “Switched Heads” may only be the bait….
THE MAGICIAN’S TALE – Book One of the Kay Farrow Series
A woman who sees what others cannot see seeks the murderer of a young street hustler, a man she had befriended in photographing San Francisco’s dark, sexually charged netherworld.
The colors of Kay Farrow’s landscape are black, white, and shades of gray. An achromat suffering from total color blindness, Kay possesses a vision that informs her world and sharpens her skills as a talented photographer. When Tim Lovsey, a handsome prostitute, is brutally slain, he becomes much more than Kay’s subject. She makes it her mission to find his killer, even though the police would prefer to quietly let the case drop.
Kay’s search for answers takes her back in time to an unsolved serial murder case with disturbing parallels to Tim’s killing—a case whose botched investigation led to her father’s ouster from the police force. Searching for the truth, she moves from the back alleys, exotic clubs, and dim corners of San Francisco’s underground, where—for the right price—any sexual fantasy can be realized, to the elite enclaves of the city’s most privileged class. Kay knows Tim’s murderer resides somewhere within these disparate worlds, at an intersection as gray and murky as the shadows that define her world.
Putting her life and all she holds dear at risk, Kay must sort through the riddles of the past before she can discover the shocking truth of Tim’s death. Along the way, she finds the chiaroscuro of culpability pointed in shades of lust, jealousy, greed, and desire.
TANGIER – Book One of the Foreign Detective Series
Tangier, a sweeping novel of romance and intrigue set in a fabled North African resort, may remind readers of the Alexandria Quartet. In this book Tangier is more than just a place; it is a city of unholy loves. Titled Europeans, Moroccan hustlers, aging former Nazis, decadents of every sort play out their rituals, competing for stunning lovers and social power.with his Vice-Consul’s wife. A retired British character actor strives to preserve his dignity as his friends betray him and he feels an intimation of his death. A Canadian gossip columnist struggles not to lose himself in the gay world of Tangier. There is a young Frenchman corrupted by his love for an older woman; a radical Arab surgeon; a fifth-rate Soviet spy-a “burnt-out case”; squabbling writers; cruel social arbiters; a male prostitute named “Pumpkin Pie”.
Watched closely by the police inspector as they slip in and out of each others’ lives, these and other characters ignore the storm that gathers slowly above their town. In the end it sweeps them up with dizzying force. Tangier is revealed in a violent and dazzling finale.