Protecting an actor takes Drum into the seedy underworld of psychedelia:
Terminal illness and regret go hand-in-hand. Two months ago, Amos Littlejohn was in the prime of life, and had plenty of energy to be enraged when his pregnant daughter was abandoned by her husband, matinee idol Ahmed Shiraz. Now stricken with leukemia, Littlejohn is near death, and beginning to regret taking out a contract on the actor's life.
He hires international private eye Chester Drum to call off the hit and protect Shiraz until his life is safe. On his first night on the job, Drum's partner takes a shotgun blast meant for the actor. Wanting nothing more than to wring Shiraz's neck, Drum follows him to Europe, where he must contend with assassins, beatniks, and the powerful effects of an experimental drug called LSD.
"Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex." - The New York Times Book Review.
"A cult author for lovers of noir fiction." - Mónica Calvo-Pascual, author of Chaos and Madness.
"A great pulpster ... always one of my favorites." - Ed Gorman, author of The Poker Club.
"Langton's sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader." - Publishers Weekly.
"Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished." - St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).
Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.