A woman is brutally murdered in a quiet rural subdivision. The killer is just leaving as Francis X. Lenihan pulls up. Francis has come to serve papers, but there’s no one home—just as the “caretaker” had told him. Francis leaves his card in the door, and two days later, in St. Louis, homicide detectives are at his door. Francis helps the police all he can, but they need more. If only he could sort through his beer-soaked memory and recall the vanity plate on the killer’s muscle car. Meanwhile he has reluctantly taken the assignment placed on him by Rose, the formidable young woman who has tracked him down to his favorite bar: Find this son of a bitch and bring him to justice.

     Cops and criminals, break-ins and brawls, a killer at large. The idiosyncratic Francis wades through a slew of dicey situations, peril at every turn, his process server wiles put to the test. He has no qualms about grabbing the bull by the horns. The question is how badly will he be gored? Maybe he should just stay put in the cozy confines of Murphy’s Bar, where the regulars ply him with drinks for the favor of singing their beloved Irish ballads.

Wm Stage In a checkered life, Wm. Stage has been a tree trimmer, ambulance driver, public health officer, process server and newspaper columnist. He is a Vietnam-era veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and in 1991 he was called to active duty with the U.S. Air Force Reserves during Operation Desert Storm. Adopted at the age of three months, Wm. grew up an only child in Grand Rapids where he spent his youth roaming the farmlands on the southeast edge of the city. He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Grade School and Catholic Central High School. Having been arrested on several misdemeanor charges, he joined the Army on his 18th birthday and was assigned to a medical transportation unit in Germany.

In 1972, he began natural history studies at Thomas Jefferson College, the now-defunct “hippie college,” located on the campus of then-Grand Valley State College in Allendale, Michigan; he graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Philosophy degree, the same degree awarded every student attending TJC. In 1978, he was driving ambulances in Grand Rapids when recruited by The Center For Disease Control, Atlanta, and assigned to the St. Louis City Health Department as a public health officer / STD epidemiologist.

Soon after arriving in St. Louis, he began to moonlight as a feature writer for local newspapers and magazines. In 1982, he left his position with CDC to devote himself to journalism and photography. He has taught feature writing at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana; and photojournalism at Saint Louis University School for Professional Studies. Presently his commentaries may be heard occasionally on KWMU-FM, the NPR affiliate in St. Louis.

His books include:

Ghost Signs: Brick Wall Signs in America [1989]
Mound City Chronicles [1991]
Litchfield: A Strange and Twisted Saga of Murder in the Midwest [1998]
Have A Weird Day: Reflections and Ruminations on the St. Louis Experience [2003]
The Practical Guide To Process Serving [2007]
Pictures of People [2006]
Fool For Life [2009]
The Painted Ad: A Postcard Book of Vintage Brick Wall Signs [2011]
Not Waving Drowning [2012]
Creatures On Display [2015]
No Big Thing [2017]
Saint Francis of Dogtown [2020]


Wm. Stage lives in St. Louis with his wife, Mary, and their nine children.

You can find out more about Wm on Wikipedia.