Leo Waterman

Created by G.M. Ford

Should you judge a private eye by the company he keeps?

A hapless, rumpled, heart-on-his-sleeve, middle-aged, grumpy smart-ass, Seattle private eye LEO WATERMAN stumbles from one quixotic case to another, in this highly-entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, critically-acclaimed series, by G.M. Ford. Aiding him in his escapades are “the boys,” a gang of “residentially-challenged devotees of cheap alcohol.” Yep, not to put too fine a point on it, Leo’s sidekicks are a bunch of mostly fun-loving winos and bums.

Leo’s partial to good beer and good music, himself, and, of course, his long-time love, the lovely Rebecca Duvall, who is more than a match for Leo. But make no mistake–Leo’s no cream puff. He’s also hardheaded and opinionated, with deep roots in the city, and a ton of connections, thanks to his old man’s clout as a politico.

Sure, this whole P.I. thing is just a dodge while he waits for a ginormous trust fund to kick in, but when the going gets tough, he can become a particularly fierce opponent. One of the most entertaining of the nineties eyes around, if you ask me.

But then… 2000’s The Deader the Better seemed to have been the last in the series. In 2001, Ford returned with a new sleuth, newshawk Frank Corso. Frank’s a far darker kind of detective, and yet, Ford’s plain old readability remains as much a treat as ever. Leo even makes a brief appearance or two, just to let fans know he may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.

It was reassuring to think that Leo was apparently still out there somewhere, essentially retired from the shamus game, but still willing to step up when a friend is in need. And then, just about when I’d given up hope, after twelve long years, in an apparent “fit of pique,” brought back Leo in Thicker Than Water (2012), and suddenly he was back in the game. Chump Change followed in 2014, and all of a sudden Leo was back on an almost annual basis.


A retired astronaut and former Grand Dragon of the B’nai B’rith, G.M. Ford broke onto the mystery scene with Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, which introduced Leo Waterman. The  series has been nominated for the Shamus, the Anthony, the Lefty and a couple of other awards probably best forgotten. He lives and works in Seattle.


  • “Since I seem to be one of those middle-aged female mystery fans who now make up the genre demographic majority, it is probably important for the publishing industry to cater to my whims specifically. I’ll make it easy on them- I want humor and intelligence and characters I can believe in. I want more Leo.”
    — Kathleen, a denizen of DorothyL (sorry! I’ve lost her last name)
  • “The most likable private eye to make the scene since Travis McGee.”
    — The Washington Post Book World



  • “Clothes Make the Man” (February 1999, EQMM)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Gerald So for a bit of enlightenment on this one.

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