Created by Frederick Zackel
“Her skirt was shorter than her hair.”
Once upon a time, FRANK CORSO was a scruffy, bar-hopping San Francisco private eye, rough around all the edges. Then he met a rich girl, got her pregnant, and married her. Against the wishes of her powerful, well-connected and very disapproving family. A son, Stevie, was born. And then his life turned to shit.
A nasty divorce, followed by trumped-up charges of abuse, first against his ex, and later against her father. But it worked. Frank served six months for assault, and was kept under psychiatric care. When he was released, he figured it was over. It wasn’t. He was charged with murder of his former father-in-law, and would probably still be rotting in the hoosegow, except that it turned out, finally, that he was innocent. No fool, he, Frank decided enough was enough–time to get “out of Dodge.”
So, when we meet him at the start of The Girl Under the Bridge (2020), he’s moved to Vegas. He’s cleaned himself up, and is working a “sort of paparazzi job” for City @ Nite, an online rag. He prowls the streets at night for them, a “freelance contributor, an editor, an investigator of sleaze and ribaldry,” as he puts it.
“I care nothing about journalism or journalistic ethics, just like any journalist at heart” he admits early on. “I never cared about my job. It was a paycheck. I am the gig economy.”
And then the past comes calling…
After twenty years Kitty Colosimo, a young woman (or is it a woman?) shows up, wanting to pay Frank ten thousand dollars in cash (a “King Grand”) to come back to San Francisco and keep an eye on her nightcrawling fiancé until the wedding. After all he’s been through, Frank isn’t exactly eager to return to the City By the Bay, but then she sets the hook–her fiancé is Frank’s own estranged son. Little Stevie’s all grown up, now, a nightcrawling “alley cat” worth millions.
But when Frank arrives in San Francisco, all hell breaks loose, and somebody is trying to take out Stevie’s friends, family, and wedding guests and Frank himself. It’s a juicy, gender-fluid blast of 2020 pulp fiction that swings for the fences.
Before Fred Zackel earned his masters and his PhD, he spent 20 years driving cabs at night in San Francisco. He was encouraged to write detective fiction by Ross Macdonald himself. He’s probably best known for Cocaine and Blue Eyes (1978), a classic private eye novel from the seventies which introduced San Francisco gumshoe Michael Brennen. Unfortunately, the book is now known mostly for inspiring an uninspiring TV movie starring O.J. Simpson. The author, though, has persevered, and written several more novels, including Tough Town Cold City (2010), featuring P.I. Frank Pasnow, as well as several short story collections, including The Bicycles Were Gravestones and Creepier Than a Whorehouse Kiss.
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH
- Frank Corso by G.M. Ford