Grievous Bodily Harm

Take one hard case problem solver with a giant sidekick; one billionaire industrialist with a seemingly simple problem, add women, politics and greed, shake vigorously and watch it turn into a dictionary of corruption and multiple murder.

Digger Charleston solves problems. That’s why billionaire industrialist Emory Taggert has his number on a speed dial. So when Digger returns to the city from a particularly ugly assignment in New Orleans, it’s not surprising that his richest client is in need of his services. It's a puzzling problem in that there seems to be no specific point to the investigation. A scandal rag columnist has been killed in the course of a mugging. Taggert feels there might be some connection between the woman and one of his wealthy friends, all of whom are backing Christian Fundamentalist, Brent Knowlton's presidential campaign and would be embarrassed by any association with her or her magazine.

Digger finds that a number of the woman’s associates have also been the victims of fatal violence. The investigation leads, not to any of Taggert's friends but to the gruesome death of a rock groupie that was either written about or photographed by each of the dead scandal workers.

Meanwhile, background checking by the bizarre hermit/super hacker, Grendel and his troll-like sidekick Hiram Lipsky uncovers an intriguing, covert relationship between the Taggert sponsored Message Holders, a group of Christian Fundamentalists and Famous Flesh Magazine, flagship of a sprawling porno empire, against whom The Message Holders are supposed to have been waging a moral crusade. Also surfacing are some very unsavory relationships between Taggert and a number of dysfunctional women including, it appears, his own daughter and stepdaughter.

The investigation is stepping on toes. How hard, becomes apparent when Digger and his pre-school daughter are attacked in Riverside Park and again when Vivian, his secretary is brutally beaten in their office.

The death toll in the scandal mag community has passed the point where any thought that they are unrelated incidents would appear ludicrous. This is confirmed when Digger and Drazen discover that the brother and father of the accidentally killed groupie have been executing a carefully planned program of retribution for the sensational coverage that they believe dishonored the girls death. The brother is killed as they are trying to apprehend him and the seemingly crippled father is left with his failure and grief.

In the process of solving the scandal worker’s deaths, Digger has exposed the fetid swamp of Emory Taggert's political and sexual relationships and in so doing has, himself, become a target. Digger's solution is influenced by the return of the groupie’s crippled father, by a lovely scandal writer he has rescued from the fate of her friends and finally by the daughter of the presidential candidate on whose behalf Taggert approached Digger in the first place.

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