Fifth entry in the eight book series about hotel security chief Gil Vine. The series started with “Dead Wrong” (1947) and ended with “Dead Certain” (1960). This entry finds the New York based security chief in Palm Springs,Florida.
Gil is filling in while the Security Chief at the Palms Plaza recovers from a car accident. A man named Trevar checks in. In hindsight Vine thinks the man should have been checked out. He’s right. Turns out the man is really a wiretapper keeping an ear on the businessman in the suite next door. He’s the hot headed Bill Steventz. With him is his hot wife Flossie and his secretary Nina. Steventtz is known as “The Consolidator.”
Trevar,whose real name is Trevagno was taping the conversations in Steventz suite about some questionable business deals that would affect the stock of some companies. Trevagno growls at Vine that a bellhop names Santos stole fifty cents from a dresser and said he never wanted him in his room again. Shortly afterwards Santos delivered a package to the room. Trevagno is shot dead and Santos has taken off. Nina tells Vine she heard a shot.
Vine confiscates the tape recorder and the tapes before Steventz can destroy them. That gets him in trouble with his boss but Vine doesn’t care. He has a reputation of standing up for hotel employees and believes Santos is innocent. He tries to find him so he can bring him back to give an account to the police and prove his innocence. A diamond ring from Trevagno’s hand is missing.
Nina tries to help Vine and protect her boss at the same time. Steventz’s right hand man makes demands about getting the tapes and approaches Vine’s boss to pressure him into returning the material. Vine remains stubborn. Police Lt.Parry isn’t happy with Vine’s actions. Lucky for him the death is ruled a suicide and all Parry wants is a statement from Vine and from Santos.
Vine tracks Santos down to a fishing camp/ He convinces him to come back with him. Before that can happen Santos is killed and the owner of the camp is in critical condition.
The book plods along and isn’t very exciting. The author is a lot better than this book shows. His Fire Marshall Pedley series is a lot better.