The Mysterious Bookshop

Littell, Robert, A Nasty Piece of Work

Former CIA agent Lemuel Gunn left the battlefield of Afghanistan for early retirement in the desert of New Mexico, where he works as a private investigator from the creature comforts, such as they are, of a mobile home. Into his life comes Ornella Neppi, a thirtysomething woman making a hash out of her uncle's bail bonds business. The source of her troubles, Emilio Gava, was arrested for buying cocaine. She has reason to believe he is planning to jump bail. For $95 a day plus expenses (not to mention the pleasure of her company), Gunn agrees to help Ornella track down the wayward suspect. Curiously, no photographs of Gava seem to exist, and once Gunn begins his manhunt, he starts to wonder whether Gava himself existed in the first place.