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One Last Hit

(The third book in the Joe Portugal series)
A novel by

Joe Portugal has had a welcome three-year respite from stumbling over dead bodies. He's replaced his amateur crimestopper career with a bad case of ennui. He still lives on the income from acting in a few commercials a year and has settled into a routine of sleeping with his best friend, Gina Vela, and not thinking about what it all means. A trip to an Aerosmith concert convinces Joe he should return to the music career he abandoned thirty years ago. Gina buys him an amplifier for his birthday. He starts to play again.A couple of months later he comes home from the market to find two weirdoes waiting for him. Turns out they're members of the best band Joe was ever in, the Platypuses, who got together in 1968 at a Hollywood home for wayward teens. Squig Jones, the keyboard player, is five feet tall and a total goof. Bassist Woz Wozniak is a semi-psychotic thug. They're getting the Platypuses back together, at the insigation of vocalist Bonnie Chapman, the girl Joe let get away way back when, now a record company president. Drummer Frampton Washington's already been recruited. This leaves only lead guitarist Toby Bonner, music industry legend, whom no one has seen in twenty years. Joe jams with the group and has a hell of a time. He hangs out with Bonnie, and meets her grown son Darren. Bonnie wants Joe to use his detecting skills to track down Toby; he agrees to do so. He starts poking around and meets Deanna Know, who says her boyfriend was at a recent surprise appearance by Toby at an after-hours club. Joe, Gina, and Squig check the place out. As they leave, a dark VW Beetle drives up and someone within fires shots. Squig is hit and seriously hurt. Gina's scared into joining Joe in his midlife crisis. Joe visits Squig at the hospital and runs into Woz, who invites him to go for a ride. Their destination: Woz's wife's house, where her boyfriend sells Woz two guns. Woz intends going after whoever shot Squig and wants Joe to back him up. Joe refuses, goes home, where Deanna, the woman who alerted him to Toby's drop-in appearance, is waiting. She reveals she was the drummer in one of Toby's later bands and is looking for him too. She talks Joe into teaming up. Joe sees a dark Beetle following Woz's car. He trails it to Woz's house and warns Woz, who goes after the bad guys with his new toys. One of them sneaks up behind Joe and starts shooting. Joe escapes, saving a thirteen-year-old girl named Aricela who happens upon the scene. She's received a flesh wound and Joe takes her to Gina's to get her fixed up. She insists she's been living on the streets and they let her stay the night. Joe and Gina, neither big on kids, are shocked to discover they like having Aricela around. They give lip service to bringing her to family services, but keep finding ways not to. Joe visits Bonnie at her office, learns about her son Darren's own musical efforts, tells her he's often regretted not sleeping with her. Joe's police friend Alberta Burns tells him that his father and Woz's were in jail together. He asks his father about it and discovers his parents orchestrated him finding the refuge where he joined the Platypuses. Woz tells Joe he hasn't a clue why anyone's trying to shoot them; they realize all the band members and their loved ones are in danger. They call Frampton to warn him and discover the bad guys are lurking around his place. He calls the cops, there's a high-speed chase, the villains crash and burn. One of them was a member of Darren's band, a guy with a shady past. Deanna tells Joe she thinks Toby's hiding out at a secret place in the desert he once brought her to. He took Joe there too, but neither of them has a clue how to find it. Gina leaves Aricela at family services, deepening her funk. Deanna calls; Toby's made another drop-in at a bar in Ojai. Joe and Deanna drive there, hang with her biker friends, find out Toby was singing about a certain beach. They go there and someone shoots at them. He's about to do them in when a mystery interloper kills him. Joe goes to Gina's and find Aricela, who's escaped from family services. A news report starts her crying, and they find she's been living with her grandpaents, a recent murder-suicide. She's been auditioning Joe and Gina for replacement guardians. Joe asks Woz if he was the mystery shooter on the beach. Woz reveals he was without actually saying so. Joe's talking with a neighbor when the conversation reminds him of a photo of Toby, taken on that long-ago desert trip. They search the house and finally find it. It shows a giant peace symbol Toby made. If Joe and Deanna can only find that. They drive to the desert. After two days they find Toby's hideaway. But no one's there . . . except a mummy. End of the quest. Joe lets Deanna say her good-byes. Joe goes to Gina's, where he finds Darren Chapman holding a gun on her. He's been behind all the shooting, payback to his mother for, he thinks, holding back his music career. Aricela finds a gun Joe had stashed at Gina's and shoots Darren dead. The family services people take her away. The Platypuses get together one last time. The reunion isn't going to happen. Aricela's found a foster home at Frampton's. Joe reveals-to Gina, not the band-that the mummy wasn't Toby. A matter of a physical abnormality the mummy lacked. Gina suggests she and Joe move in together. Joe agrees, and adds that they ought to get married; Gina thinks that's a fine idea.

About the Author:
Nathan Walpow lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of two previous Joe Portugal novels, "The Cactus Club Killings" and "Death of an Orchid Lover." His "Push Comes to Shove," originally published by UglyTown, appeared in "Best American Mystery Stories 2001."

Praise for this book

"I thought it was extraordinary - just fabulous. Quite apart from the plot and characters it had a terrific emotional quotient which all of us boomers should be eating up. Required reading for the Reacher Creatures." - Lee Child

Used availability for Nathan Walpow's One Last Hit

Paperback Editions

January 2018 : USA Paperback

Title: One Last Hit (Joe Portugal) (Volume 3)
Author(s): Nathan Walpow
ISBN: 1-946502-46-4 / 978-1-946502-46-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Down & Out Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   

March 2003 : USA Paperback

Title: One Last Hit: A Joe Portugal Mystery (Joe Portugal Mysteries)
Author(s): Nathan Walpow
ISBN: 0-9724412-0-4 / 978-0-9724412-0-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Uglytown Productions
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   

Kindle Editions

January 2018 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition

Title: One Last Hit (A Joe Portugal Mystery Book 3)
Author(s): Nathan Walpow
Publisher: Down & Out Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU