ASPEN PULP by Patrick Hasburgh


Email this review


A down-and-out screenwriter becomes a private detective in Aspen. Cue wisecracks and snafus.

After crashing with a string of Hollywood flops and burning his sorrows with alcohol, the narrator, veteran TV writer Jake Wheeler, ekes out a living as a house painter in his native Aspen. His old friend Rick Rankin, now the chief of police, fixes him up with a little sleuthing gig: the job is to track down Tinker, the missing teenaged stepdaughter of aging beauty Laura Mellon. Tinker’s super-rich father is often away, leaving Laura in care of musclebound bodyguard Byron. The wild child frequently runs away from home. Now Jake finds incriminating photos of Tinker having sex with Rankin’s son Ricky and an unidentified middle-aged man eventually revealed as Richard Dupre, her French teacher. While Rick is highly supportive of Jake, redneck deputy Ernie Grubbs dogs him, questioning both his legitimacy and his sobriety. And no wonder. Despite using James Garner’s Rockford as his template, Rick is no great shakes as a shamus. He lets Dupre feed him lies, fumbles his clunky old gun, and nearly dies in an accident of his own making on a snowy mountain. Only a galumphing pooch named Winston gives Jake respect and thereby becomes his sidekick. Two twists in the middle of the story turn the plot inside out and change Jake from a soft-boiled p.i. to a questionable undercover cop.

A self-deprecating hero and wall-to-wall humor: a promising series debut.

Pub Date: Dec. 8th, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-33183-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2004