Key West private investigator and part-time pianist Gideon 'Bud' Lowry is hired to fill in the background of an old flame's fiance, a man with a reputation for chasing life insurance policies and shady real-estate deals. Reprint.
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: P.I. Gideon "Bud" Lowry has been known to play Cole Porter tunes during his late-night piano gigs, but lately he's had reason to finger some melancholy melodies. Successful restaurateur Gabriella Wade is getting married. Years ago, Gideon and Gaby were more than just friends, before her true love -- her Blue Moon restaurant -- monopolized her time. But now her wheeler-dealer fiance, Roy Emerson, is refusing to take a simple medical test for a rare disease that may affect their children, and she wants Gideon to find out why. Meanwhile, developers want to tear down Gideon's Duval Street domain to build a strip mall -- a tasteless tourist trap complete with a bar tended by scantily clad waitresses. Gideon has no intentions of selling or moving, and after a suspicious fire nearly destroys his home he suspects that real estate magnate Fred Pacey -- one of the biggest nitwits in Key West -- may have resorted to arson. Fired up by his misfortunes and a strong desire to protect Gaby, Gideon begins an investigation into Roy Emerson's background that stretches from Key West to the Wild West -- Wyoming. And the results are explosive. Roy has been working with Fred Pacey on the Duval Street mall project. Worse yet, fatal accidents seem to follow Roy aro und, especially when his independently wealthy significant others carry large life insurance policies. To top it all off, before Gideon can amass enough evidence to open Gaby's love-blind eyes, she and Roy elope -- and disappear. With throngs of tourists descending upon Key West for the annual Halloween parade, Gideon is one native Conch who isn't masking his fears. During the season reserved for mayhem and madness, all he holdsdear is in jeopardy -- and if he doesn't find Gaby soon, he'll be left standing alone at the Blue Moon forever.