In Gould’s debut novel, ex–LAPD cop Charlie Waldo descends from his hill to investigate a high-profile murder.
Once LAPD’s top detective, Waldo has dropped out of society. Living in a tiny hilltop cabin above the city, he obsessively possesses only 100 things and minimizes his carbon footprint. He rides a bicycle and in three years has grown a large, scruffy beard. So when his former lover PI Lorena Nascimento shows up to ask for his help on a murder investigation, her first words are “Jesus, Waldo.” TV Actor Alastair Pinch stands accused of murdering his wife, Monica, and as “a highly seasoned blackout drunk,” he can’t remember if he shattered a vase on her head or not. He wants to hire a PI to find out, and Lorena wants the job. But to get it she needs “the famous Charlie Waldo,” who’s unlicensed. Waldo doesn’t want to “leave his woods and go down the mountain,” and he doesn’t need the money. Then three punks in a Prius show up and work him over, warning him to stay off the case—and when he says he has nothing to do with it, they show him the Variety headline “EX-COP PINCH HITS FOR PINCH.” Lorena must have said he’d signed on. Once drawn into the case he meets Pinch, who plays a “cracker magistrate” as Judge Johnny in the hit courtroom drama Johnny’s Bench. Also there’s the gorgeous kindergarten teacher and porn actress Jayne White; Don Q, who demands that Waldo return a memory stick Waldo doesn’t have; and Big Jim Cuppy, a cop who doesn’t wish Waldo well. Charlie Waldo must be the only investigator in crime literature who has a composting toilet and thinks about whether a pair of socks is one item or two or whether a box of bullets is one thing or many. So the plot is good and the protagonist is even better.
It’s fast, funny, and well worth a sequel.