Larkin Crusoe

Created by Ed Weiner

“Just ignore me. Everybody does. Even I do.”
— Ed tries to charm a client

CRUSOE LARKIN is the best private detective in Woodstock (yes, that Woodstock!). But it’s not really something worth boasting about — he’s also the only private detective in the small town (population less than 6000) in upstate New York, whose sleepy, bucolic charms are still at odds with the messy, muddy and legendary music festival held fifty years earlier — sixty or so miles away.

Still, easy-going Ed makes do, working from a table in Bread Alone, a local bakery, tracking down cheating spouses and an occasional missing cat. And then, in his debut, 2019’s Back in the Garden (named, of course, for the Joni Mitchell song) a client hires him to find her sister — who disappeared fifty years ago at (you guessed it) at the Woodstock Festival. He figures it will be more interesting than lucrative, but what the hell.

Not golden, but definitely plenty of stardust.

STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR’S MOUTH

  • “If there’s a cosy noir genre, Back to the Garden would fit right into it. Crusoe has more street smarts than you might think, and inside that somewhat bumbling and chaotic exterior there’s a fully fledged inquiring mind. Along the way he’s helped and hindered by a fine cast of quirky characters, who work really well alongside the book’s singular setting. There are also some neat little plot diversions, but the pace is hampered by big chunks of introspection from the central character, which break the flow and are largely unnecessary…

    Woodstock is, after all these years, still — as it says right on its town seal — the “colony of the arts.” It became such a colony back at the start of the 20th century as a sort of Utopian arts collective, full of fine artists, crafts makers, and performers. In a way, it remains so, although a lot of Manhattanites and Brooklynites are moving up here, some full-time, others as weekenders, some because they want their kids to have a better life than they’d find in an urban setting, others still fleeing from the specter of 9/11. These newcomers have changed the complexion of the town a bit — less lousy-goosey, fewer real characters, more pushy entrepreneurs. And as the generation of the 1960s dies out, it’s hard to say if Woodstock will stay an artsy place or become Vail East.

    Still and all, it’s a really safe and friendly place, with more Buddhists than Catholics, and every restaurant has a vegetarian menu, and, at fewer than 5,000 citizens, it’s a very cultural small town. In fact, walking around town is like the end of “Fahrenheit 451″: in that, everybody was a book; here, just about every third person you pass is famous, or has an amazing backstory in the arts. Back in the ’60s, Dylan and the Band, Richie Havens and loads of others lived here — today, it’s not unusual to bump into John Sebastian, or Jack DeJohnette, or Cindy Cashdollar, or Amy Helm (her father, Levon, had his barn/studio here, and when he died they named a major road after him), or Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, or … or… or …. Same with painters and sculptors, same with writers (Neil Gaiman lives nearby, a number of Edgar-award winners, too). Art is in the air … and the air is clean. It’s not paradise, but for a small town to have such riches is amazing. (And, ironically, to Woodstockers, Montreal is a cool place — and we’re borderline giddy that a Montreal bagel shop just opened up.

    But one thing needs to be stated: the Woodstock concert did not take place in Woodstock. It was supposed to — being an outgrowth of famed popup concerts here known as SoundOuts — but politics and fears bumped it to other localities which also said no, until it finally ended up about 60 miles west, in the town of Bethel, NY. It kept the Woodstock name, and the town of Woodstock has profited from that ever since. Anyway, that’s some of the story, and probably more than you ever wanted to know.”

    — Ed Weiner

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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