The Distance by Eddie Muller
A Crime Novel Introducing Billy Nichols

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It's 1948, an era when newspapermen were stars -- and San Francisco sportswriter Billy Nichols is no exception. Known as Mr. Boxing throughout the city, he is the West Coast's answer to Damon Runyon -- an insider's insider who plucks and polishes his pearllike stories from the nonstop hustle of the city's nightclubs, gambling dens, and ringside seats.

Billy Nichols is right where he wants to be, until he stumbles onto a shocking crime scene. Heavyweight boxer Hack Escalante has killed his manager, and for reasons Billy doesn't fully understand, he makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to protect the prizefighter. Soon Billy's in too deep, caught in a conspiracy of desire, deceit, and betrayal, and he sets off a chain of events whose consequences may cost him his beloved career -- and his life.

As Billy himself struggles to escape suspicion, he must square off against relentless police detective Francis O'Connor, carry on business as usual with his colorful cronies in the boxing world, and resist his overwhelming passion for a woman he dare not love.

Billy soon discovers that he's not the only yarn spinner in this nefarious netherworld: many of the characters inhabiting his well-honed newspaper columns have crafted their own alternative life stories, hiding scores of secrets. Whose story will emerge as "truth"?

As richly ambient as James Ellroy's "L.A. Confidential," this debut novel brilliantly brings to life another time -- when pride and professionalism are sometimes more important than life itself.


About Eddie Muller

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Eddie Muller is the author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir and Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir. A noted film noir expert, he organizes and hosts the annual film noir festival at Los Angeles's premier film revival house, American Cinemateque, where he is the official programmer.
Published January 1, 2002 by Scribners. 304 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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As everybody in his often shady world knows, Billy plays square, which is probably why Hack Escalante phoned him, begging for help, moments after realizing he’d accidentally killed his snake-in-the-grass manager.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Billy comes to the house and sees boxing promoter and manager, Gig Liardi, dead on the floor from an apparent blow to the head.

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