Charles Alverson. Not Sleeping, Just Dead
(1977) 207 pp.
San Francisco private eye Joe Goodey is hired to investigate the mysterious
death of a young woman, Katie Pierce, at a commune, called The Institute,
near Big Sur, in Monterey County. Katie’s grandfather, Frederick Melhuish
Crenshaw, is not satisfied when his granddaughter’s death is ruled an accident—she
fell from the roof of a building on The Institute’s property—and he asks
Goodey to prove that someone gave her a push. The Institute is presided
over by the charismatic Hugo Fischer, who has seemingly absolute power
over The Institute’s residents. When J.B. Carter, the eccentric millionaire
who owns the property, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, Carter’s
widow, Emma, hires Goodey to investigate her husband’s death. Are the two
deaths connected? Are the residents of The Institute all nuts? Will Goodey
allow himself to be seduced by a frustrated young bride? Will he even get
out of The Institute alive?
Setting: San Francisco; Monterey County