The Big Bopper by Reb MacRath

Holy kick-butt P.I. fiction! It’s two heroes for the price of one in this sensational new series by the creator of noir legend Boss MacTavin.

MacTavin teams with the diminutive detective formerly known as Dirty Boy as he morphs from Boss’s indispensible sidekick into the easy-walking, tough guy-talking Diogenes Baryshnikov, and, still later, into a classy, sartorially splendid private eye in his own right. His name by the end of the book is no less than Chief. That is, Chief Armstrong — The Big Bopper.

The Scene: Seattle, Washington. The Players: D.B. Boss, and a small but deeply dedicated team of other operatives. The Caper: creation of a unique new detective agency here. It is speedily christened Seattle BOP: (Bureau of Protection, Payment, Payback, Providence, Placation, Prudence, Pacification.) Or a hundred other possibilities, as needed.

It won’t be easy.

They’re hamstrung at every turn by employer-imposed behavioral restrictions. Like no fighting. But D.B. still finds ways to debilitate and discourage the feckless foes who test him.

Their initial assignment deals with an alleged case of insurance fraud. But when the beneficiary of the settlement dies mysteriously, the case escalates to murder one in this self-proclaimed “cool gray city of uncommon funk.”

The author skillfully inserts character after outre character: beautiful Ammy, formerly a homeless waif and now Flow Director for Seattle BOP; Duncan and Starr Jackson, D.B.’s married team of go-to operatives; Dirk Ramsey III, makeover manager for the image conscious Gestalt Insurance; Giorgio Amande, man about town and cage fighting aficionado; Buster and Elena Blackmon, incredibly rich couple-swapping swingers, complete with a diamond chip in ear and nose, respectively. And so many other red herrings that you’ll think you’ve wandered into the Seattle Fish Market.

It’s a delightful detective book, though, deeply layered with a reveal a minute to send your suspicions down a completely different byway, and leading up to a masterful denouement that will leave you wilted with cranial exhaustion.

And the author’s many turns of priceless phrase are at once lyrical, pithy, and streetwise:

“I didn’t make my bones or fortune by tiptoeing on eggshells. Were there corpses ahead? C’est la vie…and la mort.”

“The three feel (they are) about to be goosed by good luck.”

And our favorite:

“Chief could handle a goon with a snotlocker as red as a June rose.”

Five plus stars to The Big Bopper. It’s the debut of a new hard-boiled detective who measures up mightily.

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