Marcia Muller. Leave a Message for Willie (1984) 152 pp.
Reluctantly, San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone takes a case working for Willie Whelan, a local flea market vendor. Her reluctance stems from Willie’s other job: he is a fence, dealing in a wide variety of stolen goods. But, she decides that, in her line of work, knowing more about the criminal underworld is probably a good thing. Willie hires Sharon to find out why he is being stalked by a mysterious stranger who dresses in dark clothes and wears a yarmulke. She soon confronts the stranger, who tells her that his name is Jerry Levin and that he is working on behalf the Torah Recovery Committee, seeking to recover a collection of sacred Hebrew scrolls that have been stolen from synagogues around the country. He believes that Willie is in possession of the Torahs and is following him in order to get them back. When Sharon asks Willie about the Torahs, he denies knowing anything about them. Shortly after, Levin is found murdered in his garage, making Willie the prime suspect and making Sharon’s job much more complex. Then Willie’s girlfriend, Alida, turns up murdered and Willie disappears. Now, she not only has to locate the missing scrolls, but she has to find Willie and clear his name with the police—and stay out of the reach of a killer, herself.
Setting: San Francisco (Inner Sunset)
1001 Midnights, p. 588-590