It features a former NFL football player, James Murphy, who is homeless and an alcoholic. Possibly both by choice. He lives in Venice, California, and along with a cast of castoffs from Central Casting, (see what I did there?) roams the streets constantly on the lookout for booze. He is accompanied by his furry friend of ten years, a dog named Betty.
Betty gets hit by a car, and after rushing her to a vet in the shopping cart of one of his buddies, after emergency surgery, the vet tells him that the damage is enormous, plus the operation revealed that she is riddled with cancerous tumors, and he will put her to sleep for free, but the ortho and cancer treatments would run about $15,000, and the doc will keep the dog for a week, and that’s all. Well, Murphy has about as much chance of coming up with $15,000 as being signed on another NFL team, so he despairs.
But then the cops come around and make a sweep of the street bums to try to get any possible information out of them as to an unsolved murder of a local resident. Of course, nobody knows nuttin’, but Murphy sees a police poster offering a $25,000 reward for info leading to the capture of the murderer. Murphy gets the idea he can solve the case, get that reward money, pay the vet and save his dog.
The rest of the book is about this unwashed street person trying to solve the case in order to save his dog.
It is humorous, clever, poignant, and lots of other things, none of them actually being ultra noir. It gives us a glimpse into life on the streets, and into the mindset of an alcoholic beatup ex football player. Not even a bad mystery, now that I think about it.