Stonewall Jackson's Elbow An Owen Allison Mystery (Hardcover)
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|After the death of J. Burton Caldwell, president of the First National Bank of Contrary, West Virginia, federal bank examiners find three-quarters of a billion dollars missing. A hick bank in a hick town, it stacks up to be one of the biggest failures in the history of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Caldwell lived frugally, contributing to local charities and founding a Museum of Fakes and Frauds that features forged paintings, counterfeit first editions, celebrations of famous scams and various other fraudulent artifacts (including six pairs of sequined shoes of assorted sizes allegedly worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, four copies of the "authentic" Bible carried by Stonewall Jackson when he was fatally wounded at Chancellorsville, and two bullet-riddled Ford V-8s that were each supposed to have provided Bonnie and Clyde's last ride). When the FDIC attempts to recoup investor's losses by auctioning off the banks' assets and the museum's holdings, the attractive museum curator vanishes and suspicious accidents start to befall winning auction bidders. Failure analyst Owen Allison, brooding over his approaching fiftieth birthday and worried about his mother's Alzheimer's deterioration, demonstrates that the auto "accident" that killed a successful bidder was rigged and joins in the hunt for the missing millions. A successful bidder himself, and the suitor of the vanished curator, Owen soon finds himself the target of a mysterious series of attacks. This latest entry in John Billheimer's quirky and inventive mystery series has more twists than a West Virginia road.< P>John Billheimer, a native West Virginian, lives in Portola Valley, California.|