Monday, May 17, 2010

The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool

Richard Yancey's third book in the Highly Effective Detective series features bumbling detective Teddy Ruzak who solves crimes in Knoxville, Tennessee. Teddy's distinctively meandering speaking style reflects his highly ethical, curious, but undisciplined mind and oblique approach to life and crime-solving. Despite the fact that Teddy keeps failing the P.I. licensing exam and the state tries to shut his business down, he keeps taking cases. He tells his beautiful secretary Felicia,"The ironic thing is...I actually believe I'm helping people, and the state is going to arrest me for it..but since reading somewhere that we live in a postironic age,I had taken on a personal mission to keep irony alive, at least within my miniscule sphere. Teddy Ruzak, researcher, analyst, master ironist."(p11-12)
Ruzak stumbles through his cases doggedly following leads, piecing together the anomalies that turn up and, despite the low expectations he inspires in everyone he meets, he does crack the case of the missing client.
The series is funny, but with a bittersweet, poignant undertone in Teddy's observations about human nature and his relationships with the secretary he loves but who does not return the feeling; his sensitivity about the victims of crime and even with his dog Archie, who sadly does not wish to bond with poor lonesome Teddy. The reader waits for the people in Teddy's life to realize he's one of the good guys and not just the fool he plays. The last scene gives some hope in that regard as Archie finally shows some canine devotion to his hapless master.

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