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When Mr Le, the Vietnamese owner of a rundown harbour complex is found dead the police arrest the self appointed spokesman for the resident houseboat owners. He had an appointment with Mr Le in a bid to dissuade him from selling the harbour to developers and so making the residents homeless. Into his sixties and retired, the still trim and dapper Dave Brandstetter, private investigator an insurance claims investigator, now famous and acknowledged the best in the business, is persuaded to look into the case by the local Public Defender to prove the imprisoned suspect's innocence.
While reluctant to take on the assignment, he is intrigued, as much because his lover, the black twenty five year old tall, slim and good looking Cecil Harris, TV reporter, is covering the harbour development story. Dave soon finds himself involved in much more than a single murder investigation. As he starts asking questions he discovers more potential murders, and more happen while he investigates, he suspects a drug smuggling connection along with double-dealing employees and officials. But the powerful Vietnamese community makes his investigation not only difficult but extremely dangerous.
Obedience, the tenth of the Brandstetter mysteries is yet another complex, inventive and unpredictable story, plenty of detail, interesting characters, including a young black entertainer who nearly has Cecil face down in a bunk, and the occasional link to past investigations. But above all it is Dave and Cecil, and their mutually devotion, that now makes these stories so appealing.