Created by Conrad Metcalf
Pseudonyms include C.E. Metcalf
No, not that Conrad Metcalf. You’re thinking of Jonathan Lethem’s hard-boiled private “inquisitor” in his loopy Gun with Occasional Music (1995).
Although the love of the P.I. genre shines through both novels. The thing is, Lethem’s book is a brain-stretching sci-fi spoof/parody/tribute to the P.I. genre, while Metcalf’s is about as toe-the-line generic as they come; a heartfelt but decidedly amateurish attempt to, as Chandler would put it, storm the citadel.
Because, despite the love, Eddie is straight outta central casting—he runs a one-man agency, has a faithful secretary, Donna (“one hell of a woman”), a cop buddy he mostly gets along with (the police chief, in fact) and the obligatory tragic past (wife and young daughter killed in a car wreck).
But the author does add a few twists. Donna, his loyal Girl Friday, is wheelchair bound and Eddie himself lost his eyesight during combat in Iraq. After his honorable discharge (after fourteen years of service), he moved to a large but unnamed city, and rebuilt his life.
So… that’s the big reveal. Eddie is blind, or at least partially so. Or so he claims. Because he sees things a blind man—or even a sighted man–could never see. Like, how the fuck can he tell if someone on the other end of a phone call is smiling? And the numbers just don’t add up, either. Unless I’m totally misreading it, Eddie supposedly moved to the big city after leaving the Army twenty-six years ago after serving for fourteen years, and has spent the last twelve working as a private eye. But he also says he’s thirty-eight years old.
Do the math! He ended his fourteen-year career in the Army at the age of twelve? And that’s just the first of many stumbles and WTF? moments.
Like, who the hell edited this? Or was it even edited? Judging by the number of misspelling, typos, grammatical malfunctions, narrative inconsistencies and horrible formatting errors (particularly in the print edition), the answer seems to be “Nobody.”
And the writing itself? Judging from the samples presented online, paragraphs go on and on, and there’s no rhythm or bounce—the words just stumble along, stretching across the page, line after line, as Eddie pursues the case (a wandering daughter job, of course), but it goes nowhere.
It’s clear that the author loves this stuff. But he’s more enthusiastic than skilled, and that, unfortunately, makes all the difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A lifelong fan of the P.I. genre, Conrad Metcalf has wanted to write all his life, but never quite found the time. His own blindness was how hr came up with idea Eddie Cruise. He and his wife live just outside of the small town of Candor, New York.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.