Blank debuts with an old-fashioned detective story featuring gumshoe Sonny Knight.
Sonny’s small office in Bay Town sits “seventeen steps above a shoe store” with no elevator. The Panama-hat–wearing private eye has an indomitable sense of justice but no use for computers; fortunately, his assistant/receptionist Cookie is adept in the latter area. One day, 60-something Hortense Oglethorpinger, cane in hand, crosses his threshold, asking him to look into two strange occurrences: why she’s been fired as the Tuesday night piano player at the Go Fly a Kite bar and grill and why she hasn’t yet received an expected inheritance. Why, Sonny wonders, has Miss Oglethorpinger been paid $100 every Tuesday when it’s an open-mic night at the bar, when nobody else gets paid? Sonny decides to have a chat with his police-detective buddies at the station, where he learns about three women who have disappeared from Bay Town without a trace. The police need his help to track them down, and the possible rescue of three women seems far more interesting than the tribulations of the recently unemployed Miss Oglethorpinger. Sonny’s adventure eventually lands him in the emergency room—twice—and also provides him with a love interest. This first-person narrative is a breezy throwback to older entries in the private-eye genre, and it has a few surprising, albeit improbable, plot twists that keep the action going just when it seems as if it should be wrapping up. Sonny is also a contagiously likable character despite his affected, chauvinist attitude toward Cookie (calling her “Angel” and “Sugar”). He has a sense of bravado, though, that may have some readers rolling their eyes: “When I see a wrong, I want to right it. I have principles that I live by, and I don’t waver from them when it’s convenient to do so.”
A lightweight, old-fashioned private-eye series starter with a rather sweet conclusion.