Move over, Sam Spade. A priceless nebbish has joined the private-eye ranks.
At 33, Teddy Ruzak, a devotee of Sherlock Holmes and Encyclopedia Brown, decides it’s time he donned a deerstalker himself. With an itty-bitty inheritance left him by his mother, he sets up shop over a dry cleaner in a marginal neighborhood in Knoxville, Tenn. He installs his favorite diner waitress Felicia as his secretary, stencils his name on the door, places an open-for-business ad and gets his first case when Parker Hudson hires him to find a murderer: the guy who ran over baby geese in the park and never even stopped. Not much of a case? Well, Teddy’s not much of a detective. Until his client enlightens him, he doesn’t even know he has to have a license before he can call himself a private investigator. Nonetheless, Teddy trudges on, listening carefully to compulsive confessor Eunice Shriver, 86 and no relation to Sargent. Almost despite himself, he wades into a missing-spouse case with a few peculiarities: Both the guy’s first and second wives turn up dead. A black Ford Expedition ties the case to the matter of the dead geese—a good thing, since Felicia has redecorated the office and Teddy can use the cash.
An adorably quixotic adventure from mystery first-timer Yancey (Confessions of a Tax Collector, 2004).