Gilda Decker, a twice-married dame of a certain age, having learned that her first husband made it big in a real estate deal down in Baja, wants to find him and cash in. Her long-time lawyer hooks Gilly up with an up-and-comer in his firm, a bilingual young man called Tom Aragon, whose job will be to head down to Mexico and find B.J.Lockwood, Gilly's first husband.
A simple enough task, if one that's likely to be somewhat bereft of creature comforts for the duration of the young man's trip. Or so Tom thinks. But from the journey's start--a small village with no electricity or indoor plumbing--creature comforts will be the least of Tom Aragon's worries. As he tracks the movements of B.J.Lockwood from village to city to the prison where his trail seems to end, strange events follow him. First one, then another of the people who may have knowledge of Lockwood's whereabouts end up dead.
Will Tom Aragon be next?
Margaret Millar's Ask For Me Tomorrow is a short, taut suspense novel. It is elegantly constructed with a suprise ending that shocks. The dialog is snappy--clever, fast and sophisticated in a manner harking back to novels and movies of the forties. The characters are complex and flawed, and the settings are evocatively described--one can smell the beer and cheap whiskey, the urine and vomit, in the dives to which Tom Aragon's search takes him.
There's a lot of good crime fiction being produced today. But reading a gem such as Ask For Me Tomorrow truly drives home the point that writers should read, read, and read some more in the genre in which they choose to work. I can think of quite a few contemporary writers who would be well-served by soaking up some smart, well-written and well-plotted vintage crime fiction.