Spoiler Synopsis: The Damsel

Warning: I’m not messing around when I use “spoiler” as the modifier for “synopsis.”  This synopsis contains damn near every detail about every plot turn and every element you were hoping would surprise you when you thought about reading the book in the first place.

It’s a free country.  Read on if you want.

Personal note: I hate writing these things.  If you would like to contribute one for a book that I haven’t yet written up, by all means, contact me.

If you find any errors in this, please contact me. No error too small!

Now that the ground rules are established and all of that’s out of the way, let’s get on with…

The Damsel


Grofield is in Mexico City, having been left there by Parker to recuperate from a bullet wound sustained during the events of The Handle. He’s got $60,000 in a suitcase, but is barely mobile.

A girl enters his bedroom through his window, which is especially odd especially because he is not on the first floor. Her name is Elly, and she had climbed down to Grofield’s room in classic fashion, by tying her sheets together. She needs a place to hide, and he offers to let her stay in return for taking care of him and keeping him company as he recovers. She tells him she is running away because her aunt is trying to make her marry a man she does not want to marry, and she will soon be meeting up with the man she truly loves. Grofield quickly realizes that she is lying, but is unable to coax the truth out of her.

They are quickly discovered by the men she had escaped from, who are in the room immediately above Grofield’s. Led by a man named Honner, they take Grofield and Emmy prisoner. Emmy and Grofield escape in Maguyver-like fashion. Elly tells Grofield that she needs to be in Acapulco by Friday, but because there are men looking for her, it would be dangerous to arrive any time before Friday. Instead of heading south towards Acapulco, they instead rent a car and head north to San Miguel.

Feeling safe in San Miguel, they hop in the sack together and then soak up the night life. However, the men chasing Elly have tracked them through the car rental agency, and Elly and Grofield must again elude them. Grofield realizes that he is up against much more than the four thugs he had previously escaped from, and refuses to help Elly any more until she tells him the whole story.

Elly is the daughter of a doctor, who is friends with a former governor of Pennsylvania named Luke Harrison. Harrison, born rich, served only one term of office and has since been active on the charity circuit. However, he wants to return to a position of power of some sort. Harrison’s son Bob is press secretary to General Pozos, the dictator of the small South American country Guerrero. Pozos’ son, Juan, has been living with Harrison in Pennsylvania while attending college.

Harrison has concocted a plan to seize the reins of power in Guerrero by setting up Juan as a puppet. He has convinced Elly’s father, Dr. Fitzgerald, to become General Pozos’ personal physician and then kill him slowly over a three month period. General Pozos is a merciless dictator, and Luke Harrison is a very convincing man, and Dr. Fitzgerald’s resistance eventually wore down. However, he still feels guilty about being involved in an attempted murder, and during an attack of his conscience, he tells Elly about the plan.

Elly is horrified, feeling that murder is wrong, even though she knows that the government Harrison sets up will be better for the people of Guerrero than Pozos’ dictatorship. She vows to tell the General of the plot, and Dr. Fitzgerald locks her up. She escapes, and Harrison sends men to find her. Harrison tells Fitzgerald that he has hired a private detective rather than a gang of thugs, and assures him that he will find Elly and stop her.

Grofield sees an opportunity here–he does not have any papers, and getting back into the States could be problematic. However, if he helps out a general, his problem will be solved. He agrees to help Elly.

They hide out in San Luis Potosi for a couple of days. They are faced with a rather substantial problem. There is only one road to Acapulco, a mere two lanes wide, and airports are certain to be guarded. Grofield knows that the road will be closely watched. They relocate to Taxco, where the road to Acapulco begins, and Grofield patrols it in a taxicab to find the spot where Honner and his men are waiting.

Late Thursday night, they begin down the road. When they are close to Honner’s dragnet, Grofield sneaks out, slashes the tires on one of their cars and throws a Molotov cocktail at the other. They then speed on down the road towards Acapulco.

However, Honner’s men will also be coming from the opposite direction, and Honner will be able to get the tires fixed fairly quickly, so Grofield has to come up with a way not to be seen. They buy two horses from some goat herders and push their car through a fence and off a cliff at a scenic lookout point in the mountains. The crashed car can be seen, but it is too far down to check for bodies. Elly and Grofield hide out until they see that Honner and his men have found the car, then proceed on horseback to Acapulco.

Grofield and Elly find General Pozos just as Honner and his men find Grofield and Elly. They begin shooting, and Elly takes a bullet in the shoulder. Her father finds her and realizes the lengths that Harrison had been willing to go to seize the reins of power.

General Pozos has apparently been struck by a stray bullet during the melee (this isn’t very clear). Elly convinces Dr. Fitzgerald that as a doctor, he is obligated to save the general’s life. He finally agrees.

Elly concocts a cover story that gets everyone off the hook. Grofield finally gets a chance to recuperate, thanks to General Pozos, and is rewarded with the papers he needs. He and Elly make plans to head back to America.

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