I've discussed amateur sleuths from time to time in this space, usually with emphasis on their professions, from high school history teacher
to shady antiques dealer
Implicit in any such discussion is the question of believability. How plausible is it that a stripper or real estate agent or nice old lady would get involved in solving a crime, usually a murder?
Robert Bloch's Mark Clayburn in Shooting Star is one of the odder combinations. He's a one-eyed private investigator who is also a literary agent. Further, he has entered the former profession after his flourishing business in the latter fell apart as a result of the same set of events that cost him one eye. How likely the combination is, I don't know, but it does make for some atmospheric touches — the weary P.I. musing about sending out manuscripts rather than about pounding pavement.
Elsewhere on the amateur-sleuth front, Bill Ott begins a review
of Anna Blundy's The Bad News Bible
with the declaration that "It’s odd that there aren’t more foreign-correspondent series leads in crime fiction. The job requires a classic hard-boiled hero—tough talking, cynical to the bone, and capable of ingesting prodigious amounts of booze and cigarettes—and the work entails jumping from one dangerous venue to another ... "
What ever could he mean? There are tons of foreign-correspondent sleuths in crime fiction. There's Dan Fesperman's, and um —
Maybe Ott is right. What other foreign-correspondent sleuths can you think of? Do such characters make good crime-fiction protagonists? And why are there so few of them, other than that American newspaper are closing down their foreign bureaus because news is too expensive?
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Labels: amateur detectives, Dan Fesperman, Robert Bloch