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Book details
  • Genre:ART
  • SubGenre:Individual Artists / General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:200
  • eBook ISBN:9781483580517

Janus: Private Eyes

by J.D. Blair

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This is a collection of stories about a bent and disgraced San Francisco narcotics detective who was wrongly drummed off the force by fellow detectives Janus fingered for taking mob payoffs. Janus ends up on the streets of San Francisco, becomes homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. He has a run in with some toughs that brings him close to death and begins a turn around in his life. With the help of a former mentor Janus ultimately starts his own detective agency and takes on mob bosses and befriends a powerful political figure that more or less keeps Janus on a retainer. He becomes embroiled in cases of art theft, the murder of the son of a powerful San Francisco family and is nearly killed chasing a notorious Mexican drug lord. Janus is an old school detective fighting modern day crime. He is brash, witty and cunning. Is he dumb enough to enter the dark side? Of course he is.

JANUS is a strange name for a 21st century Private Eye. The blame, if there is blame, can be placed with Janus Payette's parents who had serious interests in mythology. In ancient Roman mythology Janus is the god of beginnings and changes, of doors, gates and endings.  Our introduction to Janus Payette finds him at the low ebb of his life; on the streets and jobless in San Francisco his "home" is a niche in a BART station where communter trains come and go at all times of the day and night. If change is a trait for Janus the god then this particular transition is the nadir for Janus the cop. Janus's predicament quickly changes following a near death experience at the hands of a mugger who tosses him onto the train tracks and steals all of his possessions. Janus escapes death and vows never to be victimized again. With the help of a retired cop and mentor, Charlie Lampley, Janus is provided with a roof over his head and given incentives to survive off the streets; another transition thanks to a link to his past as a narcotics detective. Through a series of events that require Janus to dredge up old detective instincts he finds himself embroiled in an investigation involving prostitution, murder and police corruption at the highest level of the SFPD. In the process it results in the death of the mentor who took him off the streets and nearly kills Penny a reformed prostitute Janus befriended. In exposing the corruption and the mob boss responsible Janus and Penny begin a new chapter. With the aid of ten-thousand dollars left to them in Lampley's will the pair form the Janus Detective Agency. After hanging out their shingle the phone rings quickly and there is an important person on the other end of the line. Gianni Mattioli is the patriarch of the most powerful family in San Francisco. His power and influence have touched governors, senators and presidents. He is calling in need of a PI to find his son Alonso who heads up the Mattioli wine business. Janus agrees and the investigation leads him into the nefarious dealings of wine making in California. Following several leads Janus crosses paths with Della Hanken the winery controller, Adriana Smario Mattioli's assistant, Cameron Keener who is having an affair with Alonso, and Aryanna Mattioni, Alonso's wife. Floating in and out of this cabal of characters is Clarence Denlis a smarmy ex-detective Janus knows from his past. What begins as a search for Alonso soon turns into a hunt for his murder. Alonso is found stashed in a wine cask and Janus is asked to find his killer. In looking for his killer Janus discovers that our characters are all somehow implicated in stiffing the winery in various ways. In the end it turns out all of them had a hand in Alonso's death. In gratitude for solving the murder Matiolli puts Janus on retainer. Art theft isn't really Janus's forte but at Matiolli's request he takes on a client who claims to have lost a Jackson Pollock painting on a flight to Hawaii. Once again Janus is put into a position of having to learn the ins and outs of the rich man's game of art collection. It isn't pretty. An innocent art historian is killed and a forger has muddied the waters faking the Pollock. What began as a lost painting spirals into a case of insurance fraud and petty bickering among principal players resulting in two murders and a suicide. Janus's next case starts quietly enough until Janus is kidnapped and held in a rusty ship off the coast of Pt. Reyes. He was waiting to talk to a snitch about a kid being sucked into a drug gang. Once he escapes he follows leads that take him into the dark innards of a Mexican cartel. Janus looses nearly everything that is important in his life including Penny. He ends up on the street again but is rescued by Matiolli who gets him back on his feet.

About the author
J.D. Blair developed a 30-year career in journalism and television production as a Writer and Producer. He was nominated twice for Emmy Awards for writing and producing documentaries and in 1998 was a awarded a Chris Award at the Columbus Film and Video Festival and was recipient of a Telly Award in 1999 for writing and producing the statewide program "California Heartland". During this same period he was awarded a Knight Journalism Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley for media coverage of urban development. Since 2000 he's been writing one-act plays, short fiction, and essays. His work has appeared in several literary magazines including, Pearl, Writer's Journal, Carve Magazine, Third Wednesday, Fog City Review, Hear Us Roar, Calliope, The Common Line Journal and California Quarterly.