Except for the Bones

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Millicent Cutler wants more out of life in a materialistic sense than Paul Cutler can provide. She finds it an easy matter to end her marriage to cutler in order to become Mrs. Preston Daniels. But although Millicent is able to survive the transition, her daughter Diane is not so flexible. Diane is angry over her mother’s actions, disdainful of her stepfather, disturbed by the move from San Francisco to New York, and consumed with self-loathing. She seeks solace in drugs and indiscriminate sexual encounters, but finds none.

Suddenly, she is presented with an irresistible opportunity for revenge. She observes her stepfather transporting and burying the body of his latest mistress. Unfortunately, Diane was not alone at the time. Moreover, her “partner” attempts to blackmail Preston Daniels and ends up dead at the hands of Daniels’ murderous pilot, Bruce Kane. Diane immediately flees to San Francisco with Kane hot on her trail.

At this point Diane finally confides her dangerous secret to Alan Bernhardt. Bernhardt agrees to investigate Diane’s story and provide protection as well. Thus, when Kane makes his move the plot is foiled, but Diane is so unnerved by the experience that she commits suicide. Still, Bernhardt is willing to continue the case, and Paul Cutler is anxious to provide the funds. Within days, Bernhardt is on his way to Cape Cod to find evidence of Daniels’ misdeeds.

Collin Wilcox, the creator of Lieutenant Frank Hastings, S.F.P.D., continues his winning ways with Alan Bernhardt. The violence is low-key, the dialogue evocative, and the plot moves as precisely as one of Bernhardt’s own plays. There is no mystery as such, beyond whether or not Bernhardt will survive the inevitable confrontation with the homicidal Kane, but the reader will find EXCEPT FOR THE BONES an enjoyable diversion withal.