Shirley Eaton (The Girl Hunters, 1963)
Mike Hammer, once a renowned private detective, has been on the skids for seven years in hitting the bottle, ever since his associate Velda, with who he was and still is in love, disappeared with the assumption that she was killed. His situation has affected who was his old friend, Police Captain Pat Chambers, now his frenemy, emphasis on enemy, as many surmise that Pat too was in love with Velda. Their paths cross again when Pat wants Mike brought in as seaman Richie Cole is on his deathbed in suffering from a gunshot wound, the gun used being the same one in the unsolved case of murdered Senator Leo Knapp. Despite Mike not knowing who Richie is, Richie states that he will talk only to Mike about the shooting. Why Richie wants to talk to Mike is that he, truly an undercover federal agent, states, just before he passes, that Velda, still alive, is involved in the proceedings, her life now in danger. The thought of Velda still being alive brings Mike back into the land of the living. This case brings two other significant people into his sphere: Federal Agent Arthur Rickerby, who wants revenge for whoever killed Richie; and Laura Knapp, the senator’s seductive widow, who may shed some light into her husband’s murder. As Mike has to find the connection between the senator, Richie and Velda, he may place his own life and that of Laura in danger, which is only made more complicated as he starts to fall for Laura, as she, in the here and now, places a slight crimp in his feelings for a still absent Velda.