THE ORCHESTRATION OF A CAPITAL CRIME CONTAMINATES
THE CHARMED LIFE OF A WEALTHY MAN ...
The adage that the ‘rich are different from you and me’ 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 Fuller’s 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 “missing person” incident.
Psychologically fragile from the ordeal of orchestrating Mary Lou’s death, Fuller does not escape emotional trauma. As the police investigate her “disappearance, “ Fuller’s 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 Lou’s mother, Rose, who ultimately emerges as Lester Fuller’s accuser and nemesis.
With Rose as the whistle-blower, insinuating to the police that he conspired in Mary Lou’s 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 “mob,” fearing blackmail, or worse.
Danny is ignorant of his father’s role in Mary Lou’s disappearance. He admires his Dad’s 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.
Lester’s wife, Margo often obsesses over whether or not Fuller masterminded Mary Lou’s disappearance. Yet, she remains cautiously silent, determined to hang in long enough to collect fifty percent of Fuller’s assets when their pre-nup matures within a year.
Police detective Jason Strong knows in his gut that Fuller is linked to Mary Lou’s “disappearance,” but with no hard evidence, only Rose’s hysterical accusations, his hands are tied. Intimidated by Fuller’s 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 novel’s end, we know that Fuller’s wealth will protect him from being charged with Mary Lou’s disappearance but he does not escape the psychological fallout associated with the orchestration of a capital crime.