A South Boston private eye’s job performance is seriously compromised by his inability to stay awake.
Ever since the car accident that disfigured him years ago, Mark Genevich has been narcoleptic. He can fall asleep in the middle of a conversation and wake up hours later with no idea, or a highly fictionalized idea, of what happened. This may sound funny, and sometimes it is, but apart from the constant danger of having his cigarettes burn down the office building that his widowed mother owns, Mark’s tendency to nod off and hallucinate makes him a less-than-ideal candidate to find out who “stole” the fingers of Jennifer Times, the D.A.’s daughter. That is, if her fingers really were stolen, and if she really is the person who left behind a pair of indecorous photos she may or may not have posed for. A shamus who can’t stay awake offers a wacky new take on the genre—not only does Mark have to solve the crime, he has to figure out what it is, and who hired him to solve it—but poses unusual challenges as well. Mark’s meandering leaves little room for other characters or much of a mystery, and the enigmatic edge of everything he goes through ends up flattening the big revelations, when they come, as more of the same.
Despite the Chandler parody that begins with the title and the opening paragraph, Mark is no Marlowe, and this debut resembles The Big Sleep mostly in the nonstop wisecracks it provides.