Teddy Ruzak (The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool, 2010, etc.), whose most notable quality in his first three adventures was a winsome cluelessness, gets into a seriously disturbing case.
Now that Quinton Stiles, the ex-boyfriend who beat her to a pulp, is out of prison, Isabella Farrell needs protection. Not that she thinks so, of course; she’s so adamantly against the idea that her father wonders if she’s already in touch with Stiles. In order to protect her, though, he leans on Teddy, the unlicensed private detective who you could say ran White Knight Associates if it weren’t actually run by his secretary and Girl Friday Felicia, who’s passed the p.i. exam he failed three times. Stiles, everyone agrees, is not someone you want to run afoul of. And Teddy—whose way of protecting his unwilling client is to get himself squeezed between the cops and the White Aryan Nation, whose local minions Quinton had snitched on in order to win an early release—runs afoul of Quinton by any reasonable standard. The resulting spate of violence leaves few corpses and even less mystery in its wake. Yet Teddy’s sensitive, noble, quixotic response to it will make a far more lasting impression on you than the next dozen fictional corpses you find.
Teddy continues to grow and deepen as he charts a developmental path like no other in the genre.