a Richard Garcia
is an erotic thriller that examines the themes of
innocence lost and redemption. It does so against a
backdrop of incest and corruption with a protagonist
disillusioned enough to survive in a modern world but
still capable of believing in, and acting on, a
traditional concept of honor.
Late one night, Richard Garcia,
a writer for the Los Angeles tabloid, Weekly Purge,
discovers the body of a young woman washed ashore on Venice
Beach. The former literature professor from Los Angeles
University lost his job two years ago after being accused,
justly, of having an affair with a student. In the intervening
years, Garcia has sunk into self-pity and cynicism to make up
for the disappointing turn in his life. But Garcia still retains
some moral idealism; it is rekindled when he decides to
investigate the woman's death.
Research is nothing new to a
Ph.D. and Garcia plunges into the case with the fervor of a man
in search of redemption. Hassled by the police who are not
interested in solving the case, Garcia meets a series of people
connected to the dead girl, Sally Van Meter. They include
Collier, a lawyer; a morgue doctor, Michael Bernsen; Horace
Dodge, septuagenarian real estate mogul; Kristen Bowren, his
former student and lover; Kristen's mother; and Laura Bernsen.
Garcia follows clues to Seattle
where he meets, and falls for, Sara Good, director of a homeless
shelter. Through Sara, Garcia reveals his true aptitude for
goodness and signals his instinctive choice of the right side of
the struggle that engages him. With Sara's help, Garcia is able
to untangle the mystery surrounding the short life of Sally Van
Not by coincidence, Horace
Dodge is the father of Sally, the product of an incestuous
relationship the pedophile has forced upon his teenaged
children. The archetype of dysfunctional families, all of
Dodge's off-spring have banded together to gather information
and blackmail Dodge on a litany of illegal activities. Back in
L.A., Assistant D.A. Dan Stokes enlists Garcia's aid in
gathering the information to be used in prosecuting Dodge and
the corrupt city officials on his payroll.
In the end, Garcia is surprised
to learn that Sally's death was an accident. Nevertheless he is
galled by the immorality of Collier, Laura, and others who
concealed the truth because it interfered with their own plans.
This event signals the complete reversion in character of Garcia
from manipulative misogynist to hero, in the classical Greek
In reflecting upon his own loss
of integrity, the sacrifice of any dignity in Sally's death, and
the corrupting influence of politics and money, Garcia learns
that he, and all of Dodge's children, have been victims of
COLLATERAL DAMAGE: the inadvertent and
unavoidable death of innocents in battle.
first three chapters of COLLATERAL DAMAGE are available
to read in PDF format.
Note: This novel has nothing to do with a
movie made with the same title. I was first!