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Authors: Robert J. Randisi

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Fly Me to the Morgue

BOOK: Fly Me to the Morgue
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The Rat Pack Mysteries from Robert J Randisi
EVERYBODY KILLS SOMEBODY SOMETIME
LUCK BE A LADY, DON'T DIE
HEY THERE – YOU WITH THE GUN IN YOUR HAND
YOU'RE NOBODY 'TIL SOMEBODY KILLS YOU
I'M A FOOL TO KILL YOU
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FLY ME TO THE MORGUE
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available from Severn House
FLY ME TO THE
MORGUE
A ‘Rat Pack' Mystery
Robert J. Randisi
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
  
This first world edition published 2011
in Great Britain and the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2011 by Robert Randisi.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Randisi, Robert J.
Fly me to the morgue.
1. Rat Pack (Entertainers) – Fiction. 2. Gianelli, Eddie
(Fictitious character) – Fiction. 3. Horse owners – Crimes
against – Fiction. 4. Las Vegas (Nev.) – Fiction.
5. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title
813.5'4-dc22
ISBN-13: 978-1-7801-0021-0   (ePub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8015-4   (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-341-0   (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
To Marthayn, who
Flies Me To The Moon
every day
CONTENTS
PROLOGUE
Las Vegas, December 2004
My long-time buddy, Danny Bardini, had shown up at my door with the DVD in his hot little hand.
‘Merry Christmas,' he said.
‘Christmas is next week.'
‘I know, but Penny has us committed to some family gathering, so this was my only chance to give this to you and have a Christmas drink with my old pal.'
‘Old' being the operative word. We were both in our early eighties at this point in our lives. Danny hadn't handled a case in ten years; not since his wife Penny – for many years his secretary – had forced him into retirement.
I popped the cork on some champagne and he regaled me with the problems he had being married to a younger woman. After all, Penny was only sixty-eight.
‘I swear, Eddie,' he said, ‘she wants it twice a month. I tell ya, she's tryin' to kill me.' He put his feet up on my coffee table. ‘Put the DVD in.'
‘What? Open my Christmas present now?'
‘What part of I'm not gonna be here for Christmas did you miss?'
‘OK,' I said. ‘Early Christmas present for me.' I tore it open, and found myself holding a DVD of
The Frank Sinatra Show
. ‘Hey, all right. The perfect gift.'
‘That's what I thought.'
I went to my fifty-inch flatscreen and went down to one knee to access the DVD underneath. Both had been gifts from Vegas high rollers.
‘How do you do that?' Danny asked.
‘What?'
‘Go down on one knee like that. Can you get up again?'
With the disc in the machine I stood up easily.
‘Show off,' he said. ‘My knees are killing me.'
‘I walk,' I said, ‘a lot.'
‘I walk,' he insisted.
I sat next to him and said, ‘I mean further than from the sofa to the refrigerator and back again. Oh wait, you don't do that, either. Penny gets your beer for you.'
‘Hey,' he said, ‘I earned that kind of service with a lot of years of hard work and devotion.'
‘What did Penny ever see in you?' I asked.
‘I was Mike Hammer, and she was Velda,' he said. ‘Who else would she go for? You?'
‘Not me. She was too young for me.'
‘You're only two years younger than me.'
‘Yeah, I know.'
Danny was my older brother's best friend when we were kids in Brooklyn. When my brother died he kind of took me under his wing. He moved to Vegas after I did, telling me I was his only friend. I was never sure, but I found out over the years he was right. He didn't trust people easily, and when you can't trust, you can't befriend.
‘Hey, turn this thing on,' he said. ‘Mitzi Gaynor's on the show with them.'
‘Ah, Mitzi . . .' I said.
‘You knew her?'
‘No.'
‘But she played Vegas a lot.'
‘What can I tell you? You can't meet them all.'
‘But you met these guys,' he said, gesturing at the TV.
Frank, Dino and Bing were sitting on something that looked like a jungle gym for adults, singing together. It was
The Frank Sinatra Show
, circa 1958, and they were performing
Together
.
At one point Bing referred to them as ‘three vagrant minstrels'. He also referred to Frank as ‘Bones'.
‘Sure, but that was easy. They were all part of the Rat Pack.'
‘Bing Crosby?'
‘Well, sort of,' I said. ‘He did do
Robin and The Seven Hoods
with them. And before that he and Frank did
High Society
. And this' – my turn to gesture – ‘came in between those two things.
High Society
was fifty-six, this was fifty-eight and Robin was . . . sixty-four.'
‘Jesus, even your memory is better than mine,' he complained.
‘Yeah, but you still got your looks.' And most of his hair, I noticed.
‘Yeah, I do, don't I?' He raised his chin. ‘But what about the whole JFK thing?'
‘I've always wondered about that, too,' I said. ‘Frank never got mad at Bing when JFK stayed at his house, instead. Never even got mad at Kennedy. He took it all out on Peter.'
‘Sounds kinda unfair.'
‘Maybe . . .'
‘You want help turnin' the DVD player on, old timer?' he asked.
‘I've got it,' I said, pointing the remote.
When the screen came to life so did my friends . . .
ONE
August 4, 1962, Del Mar Race Track, Del Mar, California
My invitation to Del Mar Race Track for the Bing Crosby Handicap came from Dean Martin. Del Mar was founded by Bing Crosby himself in 1937, and every summer the elite showed up there for thoroughbred horse racing by the sea.
Singers like Dino, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Tony Bennett had for years talked about the debt they all owed to Bing Crosby. In fact, in 1950 Dean even recorded a song called ‘If I Could Sing Like Bing.'
In point of fact Dino was the one who was most like Bing. Not only could he sing, but he also shared Bing's flair for comedy. Frank could be funny in the movies and on stage, but it didn't come naturally to him like it did for Bing and Dino.
Dean had played Vegas in September of '62 and wasn't scheduled to come back to the Sands until '64. But he called me in July of '63 and asked me if I wanted to go to the track . . .
‘Gonna be quite a bash,' he told me on the phone. ‘Bing will be there for the race, and he's invited Jack Benny and Bob Hope.'
‘He won't mind if I just show up?'
‘Hey, pally,' he said, ‘Der Bingle invited me and I invited you. And bring somebody if you want. The more the merrier. It's supposed to be a party.'
Dean even offered to send me a plane ticket but I told him I preferred to drive.
‘I'd like to bring Jerry Epstein, if that's all right?'
‘The leg breaker?' Dino laughed. ‘I thought you'd bring a broad with you.'
‘Jerry's a big horse player,' I said. ‘This'd be right up his alley.'
‘Then bring 'im,' Dean said. ‘Sure, why not? It'll be great. And pack for a couple of days. I'll get you rooms in the Hotel Del Mar. That's where a lot of us will be staying instead of driving home.'
When I hung up with Dean that day I called Jerry and he got excited. The chance to go to Del Mar to watch and bet on the Bing Crosby Handicap
with
Bing Crosby? The big guy loved it.
So at the end of July, Jerry came to Vegas, we did the town for a couple of days, and then headed for Del Mar in my Caddy. Naturally, he drove.
‘A month ago I never expected to be spending the first weekend in August in Del Mar,' Jerry said, during the ride.
‘It's a big deal, huh?'
‘You kiddin'?' he asked. ‘The two places I'd most wanna be in the summer are either Del Mar or Saratoga. I can't thank ya enough, Mr G.'
We drove to the Hotel Del Mar, checked into our rooms and had dinner, then Jerry said he had to go to his room to handicap.
‘I don't wanna embarrass myself tomorrow,' he said. ‘I gotta pick some winners.'
BOOK: Fly Me to the Morgue
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