A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.
Harry Lipkin, Private Eye, by Barry Fantoni (Doubleday):
Elderly sleuths--professional and not--aren’t unusual in crime and mystery fiction. Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple was no spring chicken. Neither was the late Dorothy Gilman’s Emily Pollifax. And we mustn’t forget about Colin Cotterill’s Dr. Siri Paiboun, or L.A. Morse’s Jake Spanner, or Stuart Palmer’s Hildegarde Withers. Harry Lipkin, though, is said to be “the world’s oldest private eye ...a tough-talking, soft-chewing, rough-around-the-edges, slow-around-the-corners private investigator who carries a .38 and a spare set of dentures.” An 87-year-old resident of Miami, Florida, Lipkin specializes in cases that might have embarrassed Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer. He’s currently employed, for instance, by Norma Weinberger, the wealthy widow of a hatmaker, who’s sure that there’s a thief in her midst, somebody--probably somebody she trusts, a member of her household staff--who is robbing her of trinkets, both expensive and sentimental. It’s up to the creaky Lipkin to catch the crook(s). Trouble is, most of the eccentric characters in Mrs. Weinberger’s orbit have motives. You can tell this is likely to result in a fairly comedic tale, even before you learn that author Fantoni used to be a writer for Britain’s satirical Private Eye magazine and a cartoonist for the London Times. Harry Lipkin, Private Eye isn’t at all an important novel, but it would be a welcome diversion on one of those days more filled with sunshine than responsibilities.
READ MORE: “Barry Fantoni: ‘Harry Knows What I Know,’” by Paul Blezard (The Independent).