Created by Casey Barrett
Unlicensed New York P.I. DUCK DARLEY has been around, and has the physical and emotional scars to prove it. A former felon and alcoholic who’s currently walking the more-or-less straight-and-narrow, he self-medicates by vaping pot, attending AA meetings and getting beat up at his local dojo. Oh, he’s also the estranged son of a very wealthy man who went to prison, and a former champion swimmer. In other words — the kind of complicated and complex backstory that could scare away readers who don’t get in on the ground floor.
Fortunately, Barrett’s a good enough writer to clear that hurdle with ease, and tosses in some solid storytelling and sharp characterization to make it all worthwhile. Most notable, of course, is Duck himself, who turns out to be an affable and interesting fellow. Although Cass Kimball, his sometime partner and a former leather-wearing dominatrix, is pretty sharp herself.
It’s an enjoyable series, an odd combination of Matt Scudder and Spenser, but no matter how big the story gets, Duck remains refreshingly down to earth, as when in 2019’s The Tower of Songs (a nifty Leonard Cohen ref), he awakes in the hospital, worrying about who’s going to pay for it.
Casey Barrett is a Montreal jock (he was a West Island pool rat) turned Big Apple crime writer. A former Olympian and the co-founder and co-CEO of Imagine Swimming, New York City’s largest learn-to-swim school, he has won three Emmy awards and one Peabody award for his work on NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004, 2006, and 2008, while his (and Duck’s) debut novel, Under Water (2017), was nominated for a 2018 Shamus Award. He currently lives in Manhattan and the Catskils with his wife, daughter, and hound.
- Under Water (2017) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Against Nature (2018) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Tower of Songs (2019) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Reckoning with Addiction in Crime Fiction
Barrett makes his case that “crime novels are the best space to understand the emotional truths of addiction and sobriety.” (August 2019, CrimeReads)