The adage that the Ďrich are different from you and meí is crystallized in Bad Dad, a psychological crime novel that explores the dark side of wealth and privilege.
Lester Fuller, heir to a Wyoming natural gas fortune. hires his long-time operations manager and pilot, Mike Sanger, to murder his daughter-in-law. Fuller loathes Mary Lou for luring son Danny away from an upper class existence, locking him into a life of poverty and transforming him into a Southern redneck who sweats as a tree trimmer to support her and their son. What sends Fuller over the edge is his discovery, through a private investigator, that she is having an affair.
Sanger suffocates Mary Lou in her living room, then dumps her body out of Fullerís Learjet into the wilds of Yellowstone Park where he knows her remains will be devoured by animal predators. Her disappearance is classified by police as a ďmissing personĒ incident.
Psychologically fragile from the ordeal of orchestrating Mary Louís death, Fuller does not escape emotional trauma. As the police investigate her ďdisappearance, ď Fullerís fears of being associated with the crime begin to mount. He worries that wife Margo, son Danny and police detective Jason Strong, suspect his involvement. But it is Mary Louís mother, Rose, who ultimately emerges as Lester Fullerís accuser and nemesis.
With Rose as the whistle-blower, insinuating to the police that he conspired in Mary Louís disappearance, Fuller considers financing her murder as well. He consults with former prep-school classmate, Ralph Santorio, a Yale -educated lawyer from an organized crime family, but backs off when he hears the grisly details of how Rose would be executed and her body disposed of. Fuller is also ambivalent about dealing with the ďmob,Ē fearing blackmail, or worse.
Danny is ignorant of his fatherís role in Mary Louís disappearance. He admires his Dadís confidence, power and sophistication and clings to the belief that he is a good and decent man, despite flashes of suspicion. Danny dares not confront his father, however -- a reluctance borne of their tenuous relationship and his own guilt-ridden fantasies about wanting Mary Lou dead.
Lesterís wife, Margo often obsesses over whether or not Fuller masterminded Mary Louís disappearance. Yet, she remains cautiously silent, determined to hang in long enough to collect fifty percent of Fullerís assets when their pre-nup matures within a year.
Police detective Jason Strong knows in his gut that Fuller is linked to Mary Louís ďdisappearance,Ē but with no hard evidence, only Roseís hysterical accusations, his hands are tied. Intimidated by Fullerís wealth and influence, he conducts an investigation without implicating Fuller, ultimately taking an early retirement and replacing himself with an inexperienced underling who wants to scuttle the investigation.
By the novelís end, we know that Fullerís wealth will protect him from being charged with Mary Louís disappearance but he does not escape the psychological fallout associated with the orchestration of a capital crime.