Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A few days ago I started wondering if there had ever been a mystery series set in Knoxville -- sort of a Stephanie Plum of the Scruffy Little City. Lo and behold, such a thing does exist! In The Highly Effective Detective by Richard Yancy, we meet Teddy Ruzak, a bored night security guard who decides to use the money he inherits after his mother's death to start a detective agency right in downtown Knoxville. We hear about his walking around on Church Ave. and Gay Street, about driving along Kingston Pike and Pellissippi Parkway, and about scarfing Krispy Kreme donuts when the "hot" sign is lit. Yep, describes Knoxville to a T (although there was a distressing lack of emphasis on the color orange in the book).

When Teddy opens his detective agency, he asks the waitress at his favorite diner to become his secretary. This is just one in the long line of mistakes that he makes, for she begins to charge office furniture and even her wardrobe to the rapidly dwindling business account. Teddy, however, has been too beaten down by life to protest much of anything, so his effectiveness as a detective is questionable (get it?).

His first, and only, case in this novel concerns an elderly man who witnessed an SUV drive over a bunch of baby geese. The man was so incensed that he decided to hire a private detective to track down the goose killer. Just what was to be done if and when this happened was left somewhat vague. However, in attempting to figure out what had happened with the baby geese, Teddy stumbles onto an even bigger crime, this one involving an abduction and possible murder.

The chapters are amazingly short, generally in the 2 1/2 page range, although there are a few multi-page whopper chapters included. I liked the story better as it went on, but at the beginning the narration was rather slow and choppy. Still, there aren't that many books set in Knoxville, so I'll be reading the follow-up to see what new adventures Ruzak can find in town!

Final Verdict for The Highly Effective Detective: Two Gherkins, for a great setting but generally unsympathetic characters and not much action


Anonymous said...

Just found your blog; love it! I foresee a great deal of time spent here. Love meeting another Anglophile and another Lisa!

Lisanne624 said...

Thanks so much for your comments! It is strange that so many Anglophiles are named Lisa . . . sounds like a PhD topic for someone! :)

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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