Fletch’s Fortune (1978) – Gregory McDonald

Fletch is back, in his third novel from Gregory McDonald, this time the sometimes journalist isback in Italy, supposedly working on a book, but more likely enjoying living off all of the money he’s been able to walk away with so far over the course of the previous novels.

But a pair of CIA agents show up to hint and threaten about arrest for failure to pay his taxes for the past few years, exporting unheard of amounts of cash out of the country, and possibly his theft of same. If Fletch will go to Hendricks, Virginia, and attend a convention for American journalists, bug their rooms and record their activities, then his financial worries may be over.

Arriving at the convention, he’s stunned to discover a murder has occured, and that everyone is a suspect. Paying attention, and recording conversations from the well-placed bugs, Fletch is able to get the scoop, have relations, deliver lots of quips, and generally make an annoyance of himself to the one woman who seems interested in him.

The story moves fast, and Fletch, and the reader have to keep pace with the revelations, the threads of possible clues, and figure out who to trust.

I love the fact that the continuity of the stories tie back to his taking the money from the first novel, and using it, and other sources gleaned along the way, to finance his life. And it seems everyone is trying to track him down once he ends up on American soil, the CIA is keeping tabs on him to make sure his assignment goes off without a hitch, the IRS is looking for him, and the Marine Corps. still hopes to deliver him his Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

Fletch wants nothing to do with any of them, and has a pretty good time chatting with some of his fellow journalists, making time with some, and investigating others, all of it coming to the reveal of the murderer, and the securing of a great scoop for the right paper.

But will Fletch be able to best the CIA? What happens if the IRS comes knocking? And what is the deal with the woman named Freddie, and who is she really?

The third novel of the series continues to entertain, and I love how McDonald doles out his tale, and keeps the laughs, and the mystery coming. Fletch is a wonderful character, you know he’d be there for you if you were friends, but he’s also very much a maverick, and willing to play every side against the other, especially if it means he can come out ahead.

He’s pretty damn cool.

Irwin Maurice Fletcher will return, and in fact there are a number of stories to come, moving back and forth through his timeline. Next time around it’s Fletch and the Widow Bradley!

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