Donald Tremaine is a former champion surfer...no wait, don't tune out...he's a former champion surfer turned private eye. Nina Aldeen is the niece of murdered advertising big wig, Roger Gale. A year after Roger's murder, Nina hires Tremaine to try to find out who killed her uncle since the police were unable to solve the crime. The only problem is...the police didn't solve the crime for a reason; there are no clues, especially a full year after the crime. But, that doesn't keep Tremaine from trying. He takes the case!
"A beautiful dame walked into my office..." Body Copy is definitely a book in the style of classic private eye fiction but with a modern twist. A beautiful woman DOES walk into Tremaine's office, only Tremaine's office happens to be his home, a trailer in Southern California. Tremaine's a good-looking guy who totes around some emotional baggage, but it doesn't come from alcoholism or a war experience.
Of course, every PI needs a good friend in the police department, and Tremaine's friend is John Lopez. Tremaine also has a hysterical, part-time side-kick, Marvin. Marvin isn't a PI, he's Tremaine's helpful, struggling actor neighbor. And finally, Tremaine has an aged English bulldog, Lyle. Poor Lyle, he just wants to lay around and be left alone. I ask you, "What more could your star PI need"?
In following with the classic style, Craven makes use of humor, although at times it tends to be a bit rough around the edges. I'm sure he'll smooth out with more experience. I can hear echos of other writers in his humor; I'd love to see him find his own, unique style in that respect.
Overall I enjoyed Craven's debut, but I have to admit that I kind of wrinkled up my nose at the conclusion. I don't want to include any spoilers but suffice it to say, I had a bit of a hard time buying into it. That disappointed me because I liked Tremaine, Marvin, Lyle, Nina, and the plot was fun. I really wanted Body Copy to go out with a bang. It is a very good book for Craven's first time out, though.
So, if you're a fan of the traditional private eye novel, Body Copy may be one you want to pick up.