In creating Reed Ferguson, the author has provided us with an appealing Sam Spade wannabe, a big fan of old detective novels and classic film noir. Inspired by his fictional heroes, Reed decides to open a detective agency. He doesn’t need the money–he has a nice inheritance from his “obscenely rich” grandparents. But Reed has never been successful in his work, despite his law degree. He’d like to change that and, incidentally prove his worth to himself and his parents.
His first case involves Amanda Ghering, a ditsy but attractive blonde (with dark roots) who wants Reed to find her dead husband. Reed senses Amanda will be trouble, and he’s right. It doesn’t take him long to discover Amanda is lying and she drinks too much. But a job is a job, so Reed persists, and runs into situations he never found in the movies.
Ultimately, with the help of his loyal but not over-bright neighbors and Cal, a reclusive computer supergeek, Reed finds answers from Bogie and Lauren Bacall and The Big Sleep. Oh, he also encounters a gaggle of police, real and fake, and a bunch of bad guys and gals.
The book reads like it’s channeling Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Bogie, The Maltese Falcon, and (especially) The Big Sleep. Fans of realistic police procedurals will likely find many flaws in Reed’s methods. But they should lighten up because that doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s just great fun.