Pay or Play
by Howard Michael Gould

Blackmail, sexual harassment, murder . . . and a missing dog: eccentric, eco-obsessed L.A. private eye Charlie Waldo is on the case in this quirky, fast-paced mystery.

Paying a harsh self-imposed penance for a terrible misstep on a case, former LAPD superstar detective Charlie Waldo lives a life of punishing minimalism deep within the woods, making a near religion of his commitment to owning no more than One Hundred Things.

At least, he’s trying to. His PI girlfriend Lorena keeps drawing him back to civilization – even though every time he compromises on his principles, something goes wrong.

And unfortunately for Waldo, all roads lead straight back to L.A. When old adversary Don Q strongarms him into investigating the seemingly mundane death of a vagrant, Lorena agrees he can work under her PI license on one condition: he help with a high-maintenance celebrity client, wildly popular courtroom TV star Judge Ida Mudge, whose new mega-deal makes her a perfect target for blackmail.

Reopening the coldest of cases, a decades-old fraternity death, Waldo begins to wonder if the judge is, in fact, a murderer – and if he’ll stay alive long enough to find out.

Pay or Play is the third in the Charlie Waldo series, following Last Looks and Below the Line. Last Looks was turned into a major motion picture, starring Charlie Hunnam as the offbeat private investigator.


“Highly recommended”

Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Gould brings his story along in smart, professionally smooth prose that's a joy to read


“Who needs 101 possessions when you’ve got Waldo’s savvy, grit, and luck?”

Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will want to see a lot more of the obsessively virtuous Waldo”

Publishers Weekly

“Gould is a first-class writer highly adept at keeping the plot moving”

The US Review of Books

“The plot is good and the protagonist is even better. It's fast, funny, and well worth a sequel”

Kirkus Reviews Starred Review of Last Looks

“Gripping, smart and funny”

HARLAN COBEN, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Last Looks

“A fast-paced and funny treat for anyone who loves the movies”

Booklist on Last Looks

“Charlie Waldo could do well on the big screen – he does very well here”

Library Journal on Last Looks

“Fans of quirky PIs will find a lot to like”

Publishers Weekly on Below the Line

Howard Michael Gould

Howard Michael Gould began his career on Madison Avenue before moving to Los Angeles, where he has worked as a screenwriter and playwright as well as an executive producer and head writer of a number of network television series.

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Pay or Play by Howard Michael Gould is available in the following formats

Hardback97807278508507th December 2021145 X 224mm224$28.99
Hardback978072785085030th September 2021145 X 224mm224£20.99
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The Charlie Waldo novel Series