The Highly Effective Detective - Rick Yancey

In Chapter One, I found Teddy Ruzak to be totally sympathetic and likable. Teddy loved Sherlock Holmes. I loved Sherlock Holmes. Teddy wanted to be just like Encyclopedia Brown. I wanted to be just like Encyclopedia Brown. (I had to look at the back of the book, too.) Teddy read the dictionary. I read the dictionary!

But then Teddy got older, but not any more mature, and I'm afraid he made me regress to teenage eye-rolling, and resort to such contemptuous expressions as "How stoopid are you?" and "How lame can one person be?"

At thirty-three years of age, poor Teddy has never realized any sort of success, even on the high-school football field where he was constantly berated by the coach, and still finds himself dwelling on it constantly. Most middle-aged losers at least seem to have a football success or two to look back on fondly. Not so Teddy. He has been constantly thwarted: on the football field; by his one and only girlfriend; at the police academy. I guess you could say that after sixteen years he has made a success of his fallback career as a nighttime security guard, but come ON. Nighttime security guard!!? Need I say more?

Teddy leads an unexciting and humdrum life, only moving away from his parents home when strongly encouraged to by his mother. When his mother dies, he finds it both unlucky and lucky. Of course his mother dies, which is not good, but also she leaves him a bit of money, which is lucky.

Teddy decides to pursue his life-long dream and become a detective. Still totally clueless, he sets up shop and gets his first walk-in client. It is a good thing he hires Felicia, his favorite waitress at his favorite diner, to come be his assistant or he would not have had the faintest inkling as to what to do next. Felicia gets on the phone and starts to make things happen. Once again, though, he is both unlucky and lucky.

While Felicia seems to know what to do to get the ball rolling for the detective agency, she also starts to blow through his money at a pretty fair clip. She furnishes the office in a manner that will provide a positive first impression to prospective clients, starts a newspaper marketing campaign and makes Teddy buy new clothes.

The walk-in client, Parker Hudson, is a bit unimpressed at the outset, (Felicia hasn't had a chance to work her magic yet), and inquires if Teddy even has a PI license. Of course he doesn't.

Teddy's endeavor to correct that oversight is where he starts to win me back as an admirer (although we will still have many setbacks before the mystery is solved). Teddy gets on the phone with a state employee to attempt to find out what actions he needs to take, and his exchange with the bureaucrat is both humorous and satisfying. We've all been there, right? "Those people" are set on being as uncooperative as possible, and most of us would have given up at a page-and-a-half. Teddy soldiers on for a full four hilarious pages, and actually ends up receiving satisfactory answers to his questions. Of course he has now added a myriad of things to his task list, and is in a quandary as to a whole new set of dilemmas. Is he of good moral character? And what exactly does that mean anyway? And, there's a TEST.

Teddy has a long way to go before my eye-rolling stops. For instance, this book is written in 2006 but when Teddy meets a female vet student, he seems to feel justified in classifying her as butch-like, because she is female, but a vet student, and also thin with short hair.??? There are a few other instances like that, but eventually he seems to wake up, and at least start to realize that he has objectionable stereotypes in his head that he needs to work on.

And he has a few foibles that are a little bit endearing. For instance, he uses the word "boner" as would, say, a seventy-year-old person (as in, someone just did something unspeakably stupid), never cluing into the fact that the person he is speaking with knows only the contemporary meaning of the word.

Oops. Gotta go to work. To be finished later.(less)
updated May 21, 2013 05:07pm · delete