Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Long Slow Return

The last we heard from Michigan author Rob Kantner, he was posting weekly installments of a new standalone novel, Clean Slate, at his Web site. This, after longtime fans had started to wonder, where’d he go? Although Kantner collected 18 short stories featuring his union enforcer turned Detroit private eye, Ben Perkins, for a 2005 volume titled Trouble Is What I Do, the last Perkins novel he saw published was Concrete Hero, in 1994.

Now suddenly, out of the blue, there’s Ben Perkins news to share. A notice on Kantner’s Web site tells that he has an original, 10th Perkins novel called Final Fling “coming soon” from Hard Woods Press (which the author concedes “is another name for ‘me.’ I’m doing this one myself via POD.”) His story synopsis reads as follows:
Rip Brownlee was never husband of the year. But not even Bonabell, his long-suffering wife, thinks Rip deserved to end up dead, gutted like a fish in the back of his van. The cops call it the work of a random street crazy. Bonabell’s not buying it.

So she calls in Detroit private detective Ben Perkins. Fresh off a year on break from the rough stuff--he hasn’t even bothered to replace his .45 automatic--Ben’s fighting fires of many flavors: girlfriend, family, job, cop. But he agrees to look into Rip’s death.

Working his way through Rip’s murky world of shady deals, skanky girls, and secret sins, Ben learns more than he’d care to. But there’s even more he does not know. Rip’s murder, while certainly crazy, was anything but random. From long ago and far away, Rip’s killer draws closer by the day. And sooner rather than later, Ben Perkins will wish he had his old .45 back.
The Ohio-born Kantner, who graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in English and journalism but has spent the last decade as a self-employed business management consultant, began selling his short stories back in the early 1980s (when he was still signing himself “T. Robin Perkins”). However, he didn’t see his first novel--and Perkins’ first book-length adventure, The Back Door Man--published until 1986. Kevin Burton Smith, creator of The Thrilling Detective Web Site and an authority on fictional gumshoes, says the Perkins books constitute “[o]ne of the very best P.I. series of the eighties and nineties, criminally overlooked, doomed, like Gaylord Dold’s Mitch Roberts, to premature obscurity for the crime of being originally published in paperback.”

It’s nice to see both Perkins making a comeback in the 21st century. We’ll tell you more about Final Fling as we hear it.

1 comment:

Cameron Hughes said...

Its a shame he can't get a real publisher to do it. He's a talented dude.