1948 Los Angeles: The House UnAmerican Activities Committee in Washington, D.C. is investigating members of the Communist party and their activities taking root throughout the United States.
Matthew Thornton P.I. is hired by a friend of Humphrey Bogart to recover jewelry given to a mobster’s mistress and Ernest Hemingway’s threatened while overseeing the filming of his latest movie.
Thornton uncovers a connection to several murdered women, one resembling Ava Gardner and a communist plot to overthrow the Hollywood film industry with funds generated from a counterfeit currency scheme, laundering the money through Chinatown’s illegal gambling, dope and prostitution activities,
The conspirators: Black Jade, a top level female communist from China and now owner of a waterfront nightclub “Shanghai Ruby’s”- Carson McCullen, a manufacturing executive with a secret Nazi past and unwitting celebrity connections and the Communist “Gang of Eight”- the writers, producers and directors at Majestic Movie Studios.
Thornton’s assisted by a gorgeous Rhonda Fleming look-a-like moonlighting at the “Florentine Garden’s” burlesque club, an aging actor with a closet full of secrets and a Federal vendetta, a gutter-story newspaper reporter, a black jazz musician with a penchant for lost blondes and a homicide police detective, risking his retirement plans.
From Los Angeles to Catalina Island, Thornton and his partners descend into the steamy world of sex, violence, kidnapping, car bombings and murder. Frequenting tattoo parlors, brothels, jazz joints, strip clubs, seedy hotels and rundown apartments, blazing waterfront warehouses and back alley slums, they connect the pieces and dispense justice … the hard way.
"Excerpt from Shanghai Ruby's"
“It wasn’t a pretty sight and not for a weak stomach. A quick peek told me the blonde was as naked as a burlesque dancer nearing the end of her act, but that’s where the similarity ended. This dish was wearing nothing more than a black lace G-string, except it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. This one was wrapped tightly around her neck and she’d been roughed up first to make it easier for the killer.”
Matt Thornton revs up for fight of his life!
“She used sex like a weapon- her short cut to the top and your ticket to the morgue.”
“She blazed a trail, leaving behind scorched lovers.”
“She had the face of a fallen angel and the heart of a killer.”
"She was a woman with a cloudy past and an even darker future"