Created by Howard Michael Gould
“Don’t want, don’t acquire, don’t require. Don’t affect. Don’t hurt.”
— Charlie’s mantra
Lord knows the shamus game has seen its share of wingnuts, flakes and downright crackpots, from Sherlock Holmes to Jack Reacher, but CHARLIE WALDO is a welcome addition to the ranks.
A former LAPD hotshot detective who was damn near legendary, poor Charlie just ain’t right no more. The scruffy ex-cop has been living out in a tiny cabin in the woods, off the grid somewhere in the Hollywood Hills for the last three years. He’s hooked on leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible, riding a bicycle or taking public transit everywhere he goes and raising chickens.
Personal hygiene? Sometimes.
Oh, and he’s got this major obsession about limiting himself, like some kinda hermit, to owning no more than One Hundred Things.
Like a hermit? Honey, this wack-a-doodle is a hermit. He makes Monk look like a poster boy for stability.
It’s all his way of doing penance for screwing up an old murder case when he was a cop. His very public (and epic) failure to put things right has left most of the LAPD ticked off, and the rest of the city isn’t too sure about him either.
About the only one who still believes in him is his old girlfriend Lorena Nascimento, who just happens to run a small detective agency.
I dunno. I loved his debut, Last Looks (2018), and maybe you’ll believe in him, too. If you enjoy the gonzo antics of Carl Hiaasen and Richard Prather and don’t mind a little tongue-in-cheek, you should definitely give Charlie a spin. Hollywood certainly did–a film adaptation starring Charlie Hunnam as Charlie Waldo, and directed by Tim Kirkby from a screenplay by Howard Michael Gould himself, after several COVID delays, finally hit the big screen (or at least streaming services) in February 2022.
Unfortunately, what seemed so entertaining on the page comes off as muddled and confusing on screen with, skimping on the backstory, resulting in what one character puts it, “gaping holes in (the) narrative.” Then there’s the problem that Charlie’s character never quite gels, despite numerous beatings by various thugs. His tiny cabin has become a battered house trailer–perhaps with hopes of suggesting Jim Rockford, but Charlie lacks Rockford’s charm, but in one unfortunate scene on a bus, reveals himself to be not just charmless but something of an asshole. Still, as the lurching plot finally coalesces and various threads are pulled together, Charlie’s persona firms up and he regains a smattering of competence and confidence (and finally ditches the scraggly, three-year old beard), revealing what the film could have been. But Rupert Friend as a sleazy network executive is cringe-inducingly perfect and Mel Gibson as an alcoholic British actor—a cross between Laurence Olivier and Foghorn Leghorn–is an over-the-top hoot. Meanwhile the meandering plot, once it straightens itself out, is a good one, and the solution and conclusion showed promise for a possible follow-up.
So… not terrible, but it could have been better.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Howard Michael Gould has worked in advertising (three Clios!), television (Cybill! Instant Mom! The Jeff Foxworthy Show!) and film (The Six Wives of Henry LeFay! Mr. 3000! Shrek the Third!).
- ““What a joy, amid all the bland, usual suspects flooding the crime genre, to discover a true standout. Charlie Waldo, the scruffy, eco-maniacal protagonist of Last Looks, is one of the most eccentric and compelling heroes to appear on the literary scene in—well, forever. Howard Michael Gould has penned a joy of a story, with a remarkable supporting case and a wonderfully convoluted plot that zips effortlessly among the Hollywood hills. I loved this book and recommend it with all my heart.”
— William Kent Krueger
- “Last Looks is more than just a fun ride—it’s a new spin on a Hollywood P.I. mystery. With a blend of humor and suspense that calls to mind Harlan Coben and Robert Crais, Howard Michael Gould brings to life the quirky Charlie Waldo, a former cop confined to 100 worldly possessions and the claustrophobia of his own guilt over a former case gone bad. His journey back to the world is a ride well worth taking.”
— Gregg Hurwitz
- “The plot is good and the protagonist is even better. It’s fast, funny, and well worth a sequel.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Last Looks
- Last Looks (2018) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- Below the Line (2019) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
- Pay or Play (2021) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- “Carbuncle’s Breakfast” (March 2021, digital) | Kindle it!
- LAST LOOKS
(2022, Head Gear Films/MadRiver International/Metrol Technology/Romulus Entertainment/Waldo Films)
Based on the novel Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould
Screenplay by Howard Michael Gould
Directed by Tim Kirkby
Starring Charlie Hunnam as CHARLIE WALDO
Also starring Mel Gibson, Morena Baccarin, Lucy Fry, Dominic Monaghan, Eiza Gonzalez, Jacob Scipio, Clancy Brown, Paul Ben-Victor, Rupert Friend, David Pasquesi, Sophie Fatu
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.