A Stand-Alone Novel
NO CURTAIN CALL is Alice Zogg’s forth stand-alone mystery novel.
When the curtain falls, the story begins...
Nick Fox, a retired sheriff's department lieutenant, is trying to get his act together after nearly being blown up in a targeted explosion that cost him the loss of part of his leg and a kidney, resulting in his subsequent retirement. Then a friend asks him to investigate the death of his son, who died from an opioid overdose at the end of a musical performance at Citadel High School three-and-a-half years earlier. His friend insists that his kid would never do drugs or commit suicide. Instead, he suspects murder. Despite the trail being cold after the time lapse and a crisis within his own family, Fox cracks open the inactive case and takes another hard look. Can he finally raise the curtain on the killer?
No Curtain Call is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book format at
Publisher: Aventine Press (July 2019)
Hardcover ISBN number: 978-1-59330-960-2
Paperback ISBN number: 978-1-59330-959-6
eBook ISBN number:
List Price - Hardcover US$25.95
List Price - Paperback US$12.95
eBook Price – US$4.99
Excerpt from the Prologue and Chapter 1
Opening night of the musical Woeful,performed by the high school drama class, drew to its melodramatic conclusion. The character Peterus stood at center stage, belting out the final victory solo, his head held high in triumph.
With the last note vibrant and soaring, his rival, Aurelius, stepped out from the shadows of the stage scenery, proclaiming, "You won, but I will not permit it. We shall perish together!"
And with a swift movement, he pulled out a dagger from within his robe and stabbed Peterus in the heart. As the latter staggered and collapsed, clutching is chest, the character's archenemy turned the weapon on himself and with a shrieking outcry also fell to the ground. The two actors lay side by side when the curtain came down.
Moments later - - amid thunderous applause from the audience - - a stage crew member rushed over to Peterus, shouting, "Hey Jim, get up for curtain call!"
The curtain was not raised and there were no final bows from the performers. Instead, the drama teacher and director appeared, announcing, "We have a medical emergency. Is there a doctor in the audience?"
Three-and-a-half years later
The call from Tho Hoang on Monday morning, November 5, came as a complete surprise.We had not seen or heard from each other in over three-and-a-half years. In the meantime, our lives had changed drastically. Tho had lost his only son, and a couple months before that, I had lost a kidney and part of my left leg in the line of duty as a homicide detective of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. Tho and I used to play racquetball twice a week, a sport I had to give up after becoming disabled.
After the initial hellos, Tho said, "Sorry for not keeping in touch. When you first got injured, I didn't want you to feel bad about not being able to play racquetball, and the longer I waited,
the less I got up the nerve to call."
"Don't sweat it," I said, "Are you still playing?"
"Sure, I found a couple of opponents. Some days we play cut-throat and others one-on-one games."
I paused, not knowing how best to continue. Other than sending a sympathy card after learning of his son's tragic death, I had kept quiet too.
"Tho," I said, "I'm to blame for not keeping in touch. I was at a loss of what to say after what happened at the Citadel High School."
"That's why I'm calling. My wife and I are sure our Jim did not overdose or commit suicide. The authorities have long closed the case, calling it an accidental death. But we cannot let it rest. Please, Nick, look into it for us."
I protested, "I no longer work for the Sheriff's Department, nor did I at the time of your son's passing."
"I know, but you must still have connections. I want to hire you as a private detective."
To which I replied, "I'm not a private investigator. Whatever gave you that idea?"
There was urgency as he pleaded, "Of course you're not, but you know how to conduct a homicide investigation. Please do this for us. My wife is a shadow of her former self. She cannot shake her grief. We need to get closure."
"Are you telling me you suspect your son was murdered?"
"Yes, I am."
Stunned, I agreed to meet with him to get details but did not make any promises as to whether or not I would take him up on his request.
After hanging up, I thought about Tho for a long time. When in their early twenties, he and his wife sailed from Vietnam to the USA in 1990 with the last wave of new immigrants. Now, 28 years later, his accented English was good, and he'd worked hard to assimilate to his new homeland. He owned a small convenience store near downtown Burbank. I did not know much else about him since our friendship had revolved around the racquetball court. The Hoangs' son, Jim, was born in the United States. He had died of an opioid overdose on stage - - of all places - - during a musical performance at the prestigious private Citadel High School.
I shook my head. He wants to hire me as a private detective. Is that a possibility for me? The idea suddenly made me grin: Private Eye Nick Fox. After I was wounded in the line of duty, I had the option of a desk job, working for the Community Relations Office, or settling for early retirement with a pension. I chose the latter and had been trying my hand at all sorts of activities and hobbies in the last three years, but nothing had stuck. My latest venture, writing a book of true crime short stories, was fizzling out already. I'm not meant to sit. Not in an office job nor at my PC, writing down my experience with crime. To be honest with myself, I craved action. Maybe Tho was getting me into a new beginning. And even if it would only be a one-time deal, the least I could do was look into the mysterious death of my friend's son.