Created by Ron Goulart
Ah, the sheer grooviness!
JOHN EASY‘s a private eye, Southern California division., sub-category: the 1970s.
He’s “tall, wide-shouldered man of thirty-two, dark and rough-edged” with a taste for expensive sportscoats… and turtlenecks. A no-nonsense kinda guy with little patience for evasiveness. Brusque, tends to interrupt people, bring ’em back to the original line of questioning. Cases usually revolve around beautiful, but alas, missing women. Doesn’t matter, though — the cases are just an excuse for Easy to tool around in his beat-up, broken-down, dusty black VW through a rather bizarre, surreal state-of-mind called California, the “wacko capital of the world.”
And sure enough, the wackos show up. In droves. Recurring characters include Hagopian, an Armenian playboy and writer for TV Look, who seems to have files on everyone, and Lieutenant Alvin of the San Ignacio Police, who has a thing for sniffing ladies’ undergarments.
Coming from Goulart, though, such hijinks to be expected. He’s best known for his goofy sci-fi stories and parodies. What’s surprising is how convincingly he pulls off the Chandleresque tone and the Ross Macdonald sensibility.
Easy first appeared, in a slightly different form, in a story titled “The Tin Ear” way back in the September 1966 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery, but he achieved full groovitude five years later in his first novel, If Dying Was All (1971), the first of four right-on paperback originals. He was decidedly hipper, and, free of AHMM’s constraints, ready and willing to get it on. Imagine Archer or Marlowe without the hang-ups. And dig that turtleneck! And those babes! And that ascot! We are talking one serious seventies stud here — Hefner woulda loved this guy!
A pleasant surprise. It should also be mentioned that Goulart is quite well-known for his encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and old-time pulp magazines, and a long string of mostly way out, tongue-in-cheek sci-fi/P.I. hybrids, featuring such gumshoes as Jake and Hildy Pace, Ben Jolson, Jim Haley and Max Kearney.
There’s even a Montreal connection! He co-created Jake Cardigan, along with William “T. J. Hambone” Shatner.
- If Dying was All (1971) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Too Sweet to Die (1972) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Same Lie Twice (1973) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- One Grave Too Many (1974) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
NOTE: This is the order in which they were originally published. The ebooks reprints are numbered differently.
- The Same Lie Twice
- If Dying was All
- One Grave Too Many
- Too Sweet to Die
- “The Tin Ear” (September 1966, AHMM; also Best Detective Stories #22)
- “You Have to Stay Dead for So Long” (September 1976, Mystery)
- “They’re Gonna Kill You After Awhile” (January 1977, Mystery; reprinted Fall 1995, Noir)
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- May 8, 2023
The Bottom Line: Groovy is as groovy does, as this 70s dick treads the “wacko capital of the world” (California, of course), making the world safe for casual sex, ascots and turtlenecks. Well worth hunting down. Goulart gets an A+.