First line: "I was in my office in Culver City, sitting at my desk admiring my new Ping-Pong table, when a man appeared in my doorway."
In classic private eye fiction style, Michael Craven introduces John Darvelle, a no-nonsense detective determined to right the wrongs he encounters in his Southern California practice. Darvelle is hired by a mega-star filmmaker to find Suzanne Neal, a former flame. He’s certain it will be an open-and-shut case--even more so when he easily locates Neal. During his investigation, however, a few details strike Darvelle as “off,” so when Neal winds up murdered, he vows to uncover the truth.
Working out of a warehouse office, complete with a ping-pong table and visiting cat named Toast, Darvelle taps into his network of sources and contacts. Before long, he finds himself in the dark depths of Hollywood’s elite, staring down the business end of a gun. What started out as a simple case just became complicated.
With a fun blend of humor and suspense, Michael Craven follows some of the genre’s traditions while putting his own twist on others, offering mystery fans a fresh approach to the PI novel. And while Darvelle is a fascinating character with endearing quirks, the supporting cast is equally engaging, prompting the hope that they will recur and flush out further in subsequent novels.
Darvelle has a tendency to veer off track in his narration, which may pull some readers out of the story, and detailed explanation of his travels sometimes sound like GPS directions, but the excellent characterization and well-constructed plot make these points inconsequential to the overall reading experience. PI fans can rejoice about this new kid in town.
The Detective and the Pipe Girl is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-0062305596) from Bourbon Street Books.