Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death and Taxes: Tax Day Crime Fiction

The Tax Man Cometh! I've done several posts over the years about Tax Day Mysteries. Surprisingly there are many that deal with Finance, and high finance at that, but not all that many that deal with about the average Joe filing his taxes on April 15. Surely it's enough to commit murder. So here are a few mysteries that deal specifically with Tax Day.. and at the end of this post, an updated list of several accounting/accountant mysteries. And a reminder--if you haven't filed your taxes yet, be sure and send in for an extension!

The most well known Tax Day Mystery is David Dodge's Death and Taxes--an oldie but goodie (1941). It's been reissued.  Read Librarian and Editor Randal Brandt's posts on David Dodge HERE and HERE.

San Francisco tax accountant James “Whit” Whitney is summoned home from a vacation in Santa Cruz to help his partner, George MacLeod, recover a hefty tax refund for a beautiful blonde client named Marian Wolff. When he returns to his office, Whit finds MacLeod dead in the firm’s vault, “with a small hole in the bridge of his nose.” In order to complete the tax return and uncover the murderer, Whit becomes a reluctant detective and nearly gets himself killed in the process. To prevent Whit’s murder, if possible, the SFPD assigns him a bodyguard named Swede Larson. Whit and Swede tangle with ex-bootleggers and Telegraph Hill gangsters in their efforts to unravel the mystery, which climaxes with a shootout in the Mission District and a dramatic car chase across the Bay Bridge. Along the way, Whit resists the advances of Marian Wolff and begins a romance with Kitty MacLeod, George’s widow.

Before becoming a novelist, David Dodge worked as a Certified Public Accountant. No wonder his first fictional hero was also a tax man. A notable aspect of the Whitney novels is the volume of information about taxes and finances that Dodge effortlessly weaves into his plots. To read more about David Dodge, go HERE.

Sue Dunlap's 7th Jill Smith mystery is also entitled Death and Taxes

Until someone put a poisoned needle in his bicycle seat, Phil Drem was the meanest, most nit-picking IRS agent in Berkeley, California.

But when Detective Jill Smith began searching Berkeley's backwaters for the tax man's killer, she found a different picture of Drem: a caring Drem, whose once-beautiful wife was "allergic to the world" and whose friends and enemies, old hippies and would-be entrepreneurs, enjoyed a ghoulish pastime called The Death Game. Did the Death Game KO Drem? Was someone's schedule a motive for murder? And what about a CPA who drove a red Lotus ruthlessly and guaranteed his clients they'd never be audited?

Only one thing is for sure, —somewhere in Berkeley's backwaters, a killer is still on the loose. And for a detective who loves her city, doubts her lover, and has a knack for solving the toughest of crimes, finding the truth is about as inevitable as...Death And Taxes.

A continued search revealed one other title: A Little Rebellion: April 15 Surprise by Rodney Sexton published by Writers Club Press (2000) an iUniverse book. Not having read it, I thought I'd post the Editorial Review:

After a client’s suicide and an unprecedented IRS attack on his tax practice, Certified Public Accountant Karl Mendel plans what he hopes will be the final solution to an income tax system out of control.

Assisted by close friends and professional associates, Mendel uses a personal tragedy and his belief in American freedom to fuel his war on what he refers to as the American KGB. With flying skills honed as a Marine pilot in the Vietnam War Mendel takes to the air in his planned assault on the U.S. income tax system. Help from Beatrice Gimble, a former IRS programmer and current CPA partner of his best friend, Terry Garcia, leads Karl inside the main computer facility run by the IRS. Unaware that he is being watched by powers beyond the IRS, his “forced” dealings with a Russian “mole” leads Karl and his partners into dangers they had not considered and threatens the woman he loves more than life itself.

About the Author: Rod Sexton is a practicing Certified Public Accountant living near Houston, Texas with his wife. While in Vietnam, Sexton was attached to the First Marine Air Wing. After active duty, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Taxation degrees. A Little Rebellion is his first work of fiction.

Sure sounds like this fits the bill! Anyone read it? Any comments?

A further search for other mysteries uncovered a few other titles maybe a bit further afield but with an accounting theme, so in honor of Tax Day, I thought I'd post a few Accounting-Accountant crime fiction titles.


Paul Anthony: Old Accountants Never Die
Paul Bennett: Due Diligence, Collateral Damage, False Profits, The Money Race
Ann Bridge: The Numbered Account 
David Dodge --in addition to Death and Taxes, he wrote three more novels about San Francisco tax accountant James "Whit" Whitney: Shear the Black Sheep, Bullets for the Bridegroom and It Ain't Hay.
Marjorie Eccles: Account Rendered and other Stories
Gail Farrelly: Beaned in Boston
Dick Francis: Risk
Kate Gallison: Unbalanced Accounts
John Grisham: Skipping Christmas
Ian Hamilton: The Water Rat of Wanchai
Carolyn Hart: A Settling of Accounts 
James Montgomery Jackson: Bad Policy
Marshall Jevons: Murder at the Margin, The Fatal Equilibrium, A Deadly Indifference
Emma Lathen: Accounting for Murder
Linda Lovely: Final Accounting
Sharon Potts: In Their Blood
Peter Robinson: Final Account
Karen Hanson Stuyck: Held Accountable
William C. Whitbeck: To Account for Murder
M.K. Wren: Nothing's Certain but Death 
Short Story: "The Ides of Mike Magoon" in Ellery Queen's The Calendar of Crime (written when tax day was March 15, not April 15)

Anyone have a favorite mystery with a Tax Day theme? Any titles I've missed?

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