Monday, May 16, 2011

Julius Katz and Archie: review and excerpt

A new review by Barry Ergang is out for Julius Katz and Archie:

The Bottom Line: A clever new approach to the mystery format made famous by Rex Stout, Julius Katz and Archie works as a solid detective story in its own right. Very entertaining.

Here's a short excerpt from the start of the novel:

What do I want from you? Simple. Find out who’s planning to kill me.”

These words were spoken by one Kenneth J. Kingston as he sat across from Julius, his voice having a thick nasal quality that bordered on whining. Kingston’s legs were crossed, his manner seemingly casual and unconcerned, his mouth compressed into a curious smile that seemed at odds with what he had just told Julius.

Kingston was a well-known Boston-area crime writer. I’d say he was a bestselling writer, but he wasn’t, at least not with his last several books. He was forty-nine and physically almost the exact opposite of his fictional private eye, and he certainly had no resemblance to tough guy crime writers like Mickey Spillane or Robert B. Parker. Dressed in an Armani suit and wearing expensive Italian loafers, he was five feet eight inches tall, and thin with a slight build. I had seen his publicity photos, so I thought I knew what to expect, but those must’ve been carefully posed because in real-life he didn’t resemble them very much. From his demeanor you could tell that he believed himself to be good-looking, but he wasn’t. Even if his tight curly hair hadn’t begun receding up his forehead, he wouldn’t have been. Not with his thin nose being as pointy as it was, and not with his chin being even pointier, and certainly not with that mouth of his being too big and wide for his angular face when it wasn’t compressed into a curious smile. If I had olfactory senses, I would have been able to describe the cologne he was wearing, but since I don’t, I could only guess it was some sort of dense musk. Of course it was possible he wasn’t wearing any cologne, but he seemed like the type that would.

Kingston wasn’t the first person to ever sit in Julius’s office and speak those words, or at least words to that effect, but those other prospective clients appeared anxious and worried as they did so. I found Kingston’s smile and his overall behavior confusing, maybe even disconcerting. If it confused Julius, I couldn’t tell. Julius didn’t respond to Kingston’s bombshell. Instead, he sat expressionless, although the fingers of his right hand began drumming lightly on the top of his antique walnut desk, which indicated an annoyance on his part.

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