It is October 1986, the tarnished heart of the “Greed is Good” decade. More than a simple detective story, Mink Eyes captures the Baby Boomers in a moment of decisive transition, from flower children to yuppies, as the ideals of their youth morph into an adulthood of empty materialism.
Private Detective Peter O’Keefe is a battered Vietnam vet and the divorced father of a 10-year-old daughter Kelly. Following the war, he descended into drug-fueled drifting toward the gutter. He was saved by the intervention of his childhood friend, ace attorney Mike Harrigan, who has made a private detective out of his old buddy Pete. This relationship is central to both their lives, founded in their pledge, as blood brothers and self-declared “knights of the Grail” when they were children in dysfunctional families surrounded by defeat and drink, that they would live meaningful, authentic lives in pursuit of truth and beauty. O’Keefe’s employees include George, another childhood friend--sarcastic, horny, and street-smart--and Sarah, even more intelligent than she is beautiful and anxious to move beyond being a “Girl Friday” to do real PI work.
Hired by Harrigan’s clients, successful businessmen who are also right-wing evangelical Christians, to investigate a rinky-dink mink farm Ponzi scam that has ensnared them and other investors, O’Keefe heads down to the Bible Belt of the Missouri Ozarks. O’Keefe finds starving minks, unpaid employees, and mysterious references to a recent and very involved investor known as only as “Mr. Canada. He also finds Tag, the beautiful, estranged wife of Lenny Parker, the mink farm promoter who has since disappeared. Thrown together, their relationship immediately becomes romantic and sexual. O’Keefe is hooked and obsessed. With danger circling, in a spasm of gunfire and arson, Tag and O’Keefe become separated, and she disappears.
Floundering emotionally in the wake of the mink farm fiasco, charged by local authorities for failing to report a crime, his license and freedom in jeopardy, drinking heavily, and increasingly obsessed with Tag, Unbeknownst to O’Keefe, who tracks Tag to a remote ranch house in southern Arizona, he is also leading Mr. Canada directly to her. Once there, he discovers the secret behind the mink farm and its demise. Surrounded and in peril they are penned in by the tragic decisions that have led them all to the isolated farmhouse, there is a violent reckoning under the bright Arizona sun.
The Big Tilt
Private Detective Peter O’Keefe has survived Vietnam, drug addiction and alcoholism, and three separate firefights with the local mafia. He is trying to keep a low profile and be a good father to his daughter Kelly while nurturing his fledgling private detective business. He has resolved, as he says, to become a “useful person.” He is unaware that local mob boss, Carmine Jagoda, on his prison deathbed, has issued an order to his men that O’Keefe must die.
While having no clue he is being stalked by Jagoda’s men, O’Keefe’s newest cases turn out to be painfully personal. He is hired by his high school classmate, star athlete Jerry Jensen, now a big-time real estate operator and mayoral candidate, to deal with a blackmailer. That blackmailer turns out to be an old flame of O’Keefe’s, Beverly Braverman Bronson. O’Keefe finds the once beautiful Beverly to be a heroin addict trying to kick the habit. As tragic events unfold, O'Keefe finds himself in the middle of his newest case. His investigation leads to a local strip club, the Cherry Pink, one of its anonymous owners being Jerry Jensen, a notorious den of illegal drug trafficking, gambling, and worse, and infested with a nest of new scumbags for O’Keefe to deal with.
O’Keefe’s situation becomes doubly painful when his childhood buddy, lawyer Mike Harrigan, who pulled O’Keefe out of the gutter and made him a private detective, is indicted for bank fraud. Harrigan swears, and O’Keefe is sure he is telling the truth, that Harrigan is being framed by the real culprits trying to bargain for lighter sentences and a prosecutor, Russell Lord, with a very personal grudge against him.
On Lonesome Roads
Private detective Peter O’Keefe has survived three gunfights with the local mafia and is still recovering from wounds from a car bomb. No one knows who planted that bomb, but most people suspect it was Carmine Jagoda’s local mafia “Outfit.” O’Keefe doesn’t think the Outfit did it but must suffer isolation in almost every aspect of his life, including separation from his daughter Kelly, because no one wants to be, as he says, “within bombing distance” of him. His only dependable companion is Karma, a retired bomb-detecting German Shepherd police dog.
Finding existence under these circumstances intolerable, O’Keefe embarks on a dual quest—find out who the bombing culprits were and, assuming it was the Jagoda Outfit, negotiate a peace of some kind. Both efforts only lead him into further peril.
At the same time, his eleven-year-old daughter Kelly is faced with the impending highly distasteful possibility of her mother’s upcoming marriage to a man that Kelly despises. She sets out on her own investigative adventure to follow up her hunch that the handsome but creepy, leering doctor her mom plans to marry is a fraud.
O’Keefe’s efforts to negotiate with the Outfit lead to Rose Jagoda, daughter of recently deceased boss Carmine Jagoda, who has become co-head of the Outfit with Paul Marcone. It turns out that she wants nothing but out of the criminal life. Rose and O’Keefe embark on a mission to free each of them, in their different ways, from the Outfit’s curse, a mission complicated by the efforts of prosecutor and O’Keefe enemy Russell Lord to break the Outfit, including Rose, once and for all.
After a flurry of suspense, double crosses, murder, and mayhem, can there be a glimmer of hope for O'Keefe, Rose, Kelly and Karma?
Dan Flanigan is a novelist, playwright, poet, and practicing lawyer. He holds a Ph.D. in History from Rice University and J.D. from the University of Houston. He taught Jurisprudence at the University of Houston and American Legal History at the University of Virginia. His first published book was his Ph.D. dissertation, The Criminal Law of Slavery and Freedom, 1800-1868.
He moved on from academia to serve the civil rights cause as a school desegregation lawyer, followed by a long career as a finance attorney in private law practice. He became a name partner in the Polsinelli law firm in Kansas City, created its Financial Services practice, chaired its Real Estate & Financial Services Department for two decades, and established the firm’s New York City office and served as its managing partner until October 2022. His legal bio may be viewed at https://www.polsinelli.com/professionals/dflanigan.
Taking a break from the law practice for two years, he and his wife, Candy, founded Sierra Tucson, a prominent alcohol and drug treatment center located in Tucson, Arizona.
Recently, he has been able to turn his attention to his lifelong ambition—creative writing. In 2019 he released a literary trifecta including Mink Eyes, the first in the Peter O’Keefe series, Dewdrops, a collection of shorter fiction, and Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love and Death.
Tenebrae is a bracelet of verse and prose poems dedicated to his wife, Candy, to honor her last illness and death and their 40-plus years together, a work that has been described as “celebratory” and “heartbreaking and exquisite.” It was a Finalist for both the 2022 IAN Book of the Year in Poetry and in the 2022 American Book Fest “Best Book” Award in the Legacy: Autobiography/Memoir category.
The Big Tilt, the award-winning second book in the Peter O’Keefe series, was published in 2020 and has been described as “deft, hard-boiled, but literary prose that’s reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s best work.” The Big Tilt won the 2022 National Indie Excellence Award for Crime Fiction and was a Finalist for the 2022 Independent Author Network’s Book of the Year in Thriller/Suspense.
On Lonesome Roads, published April 26, 2022, is the third book in the series, and was a Notable 100 Book in the 2022 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition.
He has also written stage plays including Secrets (based on the life of Eleanor Marx) and Moondog’s Progress (inspired by the life of Alan Freed), which was awarded the 2022 Honorable Mention in the 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition for “Script.”
His novella, Dewdrops, was originally written for the stage and enjoyed a full-cast staged reading at the Theatre of the Open Eye in New York. The short story collection comprised of Dewdrops, On the Last Frontier and Some Cold War Blues was a Finalist in the 2022 Independent Author Network Book of the Year for Short Story Collection and a 2022 American Book Fest “Best Book” Award Finalist in Fiction-Short Story.
He serves on the Board of Directors of Childhood USA, the U.S. arm of the World Childhood Foundation, established by Queen Silvia of Sweden, working to end child sexual abuse and exploitation everywhere. He divides his time among Kansas City, New York City, and Los Angeles.