Murder on the Fly, the second installment of the “Riley the Exterminator” mystery series, is available for pre-ordering at pen-l.com/MurderOnTheFly.html. In addition to trying to provide readers with “a good story well told” (Mark Twain’s criterion for a worthwhile tale), I’ve again included elements of entomology and ethics. My hope is that folks will discover some unexpected features of the natural world and encounter some abiding qualities of the moral sphere—while enjoying the trials and tribulations of a Riley, his ragtag workmates, and an alluring woman from his past.
So, what’s this story about? In terms of science it’s about the Mediterranean fruit fly and what this pest could do to American agriculture. In terms of history, it’s about an outbreak of the Medfly thirty-six years ago, the occupation of Alcatraz by “Indians of All Tribes” forty-seven years ago, and the Indian Relocation Act that was implemented sixty-one years ago. In terms of philosophy, it’s about trying to understand: how we know if a living being belongs somewhere, what makes a species or a people native/indigenous, and when it’s right to remove invasive creatures—whether they have six or two legs. And so…
San Francisco, summer of 1981.
Danger is in the air and nothing is as it appears.
The body of a gay cop who committed suicide, a radical commune in the hills above Berkeley, and a pest outbreak that will cost California $10 billion if not controlled would be sufficient problems by themselves. But the maggots don’t match the policeman’s time of death, the hippies aren’t as peaceful as they claim, and the Medfly is spreading faster than it can move on its own.
Knowing that police detective-turned-exterminator Riley has what is needed—knowledge of both two- and six-legged vermin —an old flame draws him into a perilous search for the mastermind behind the most devastating insect outbreak in the nation’s history. Riley must determine whether the Medfly infestation is the work of a government insider or a radical environmentalist.
As crops are reduced to worm-infested mush, Riley and his loyal crew at Goat Hill Extermination zero in on the perpetrators of gruesome murder, brutal kidnapping, and economic devastation.
But it’s revenge, not money, that has bullets drawing blood and wasps delivering venom in a battle to determine who lives and who dies. Between romance reigniting and terrorism smoldering, Riley knows he’s likely to get burned.