Robert Upton. The Fabergé Egg (1988) 185 pp.
When the ex-wife and a young daughter of San Francisco PI Amos McGuffin disappear from their apartment and he finds a yellowed newspaper clipping left behind recounting the senseless killing of his partner years earlier by Otto Kruger, a crazed German World War II veteran, McGuffin begins to suspect foul play. Then, when he learns that Kruger, whom he put away eighteen years earlier, has been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, he realizes that Kruger has kidnapped them and left the clipping as a ransom note. As he frantically tries to reconstruct the investigation into his partner’s death, McGuffin is led to an overweight homosexual ex-German officer who offers to help him locate his family in return for McGuffin’s assistance in recovering one of the fabled Fabergé eggs. Soon two more searchers join the chase—a beautiful actress named Shawney O’Sea and a KGB agent who wants to return the egg to its rightful home in the Kremlin. The chase leads McGuffin around the city and into the Napa Valley, culminating in a shootout in the public square in St. Helena. This novel is a pastiche of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. The characters and situations are direct descendants of Hammett’s more famous creations. This time the “dingus” is a jeweled egg and several of the characters seem awfully familiar: the fat man, the beautiful woman who has a creative way with the truth, the nervous gunsel, and even a mysterious Russian named Kemidov.