Hoping for nothing more complicated than a guard job on the weekend he soon learns that Ted 's private detective agency is now an "industrial investigating" firm and that Kay Robbens, the PR TV executive from Room to Swing, is Ted's partner in the firm. As it happens they need an agent to take on a job in Mexico. The primary stockholder in a chemical company that Kay is wooing for her PR firm demands Ted's agency send down a private eye immediately. After some cajoling Kay and Ted get Touie to agree to take on the job. Touie sees it as an opportunity to escape his responsibility to his pregnant wife and a chance to distract himself from the major life changing event that he faces.
When Touie arrives in Mexico he learns that the "old bag" Kay was telling him about, Grace Lupe-Varon, is actually a very young and outspoken university professor. She wants Touie to prove that he husband was murdered. She is sure that a prominent matador is behind the death. Her investigative journalist husband had uncovered something about the bullfighter's career and was threatening to expose him. When the husband died of a snake bite she was convinced it had to be a murder. Snake bite? Where did the snake come from, Touie asks? From my collection she tells him. Mrs. Lupe-Varon it turns out is a herpetologist and she has a veritable menagerie of reptiles in her home for her extensive research on snake venom and their medicinal properties.
|UK edition: T.V. Boardman (1965)|
Moment of Untruth (1964) as the title may suggest is a mystery about bullfighting. The moment of truth as bullfighting aficionados may know is the point at which the matador makes his kill. The title is one of the biggest clues to the ultimate mystery surrounding the murder of Grace's husband. There are plenty of scenes in the bullfighting arena, lots of background on the art of being a matador and specifically the unusual habits and rituals of "El Indio."
The mystery is much better constructed than Room to Swing and the exotic background makes for a gripping, fascinating read. Though Lacy apparently disliked the idea of a series character he does a fine job of incorporating Touie's life as husband and father-to-be into the detective story plot. And there is plenty of detection and action in this private eye novel. His final adventure in Mexico will force him to make decisions about what he really wants out of his life. That decision will fully explain why he never appeared in another book or story.
Yesterday was the anniversary of Ed Lacy's death. Coincidentally, there happens to be a rise in interest about him just as I have been posting reviews on his work. You can read a tribute to Lacy in Tablet, a Jewish online magazine. Click here for the article.