Mick Axbrewder and Ginny Fistoulari
Created by Reed Stephens (pseud. of Stephen R. Donaldson)
(1947- -)

In this short bseries from the eighties, guilt-ridden, self-pitying alcoholic washed-up ex-cop MICK "BREW" AXBREWDER is given a second chance by smart, tough-as-nails private eye GINNY FISTOULARI. Narrated almost as a string of confessions by Mick (all you amateur shrinks can check out the titles), it was pretty clear that Mick needed all the chances he could get.

But it's the hardened, no-nonsense Ginny who in some ways was the real star of the show here. Anyone who thinks women eyes can't be convincingly hard-boiled should check out the conclusion of the first book (click here for spoiler). Kinsey Millhone this ain't.

The first three books in this series, all trade paperback originals, were published by Reed Stephens back in the eighties, and that was that -- they would have been an interesting footnote in the history of P.I. fiction, but despite a few good reviews, they didn't exactly set the world on fire. But subsequently , under his real name of Stephen R. Donaldson, Stephens became a bestselling author and in 2002, he released The Man Who Fought Alone, a new novel in the sequence. With the success of that book, the original three books have been re-released, under Donaldson's real name, and all in slightly revised form.

My biggest problem with the series is that at times they seem so goddamn long-winded. Mick and Ginny are so psychcologically screwed up and prone to second-guessing and over-analyzing EVERYTHING the other one does that you start to wish someone who just slap them around.

By the time of the third book, The Man Who Tried To Get Away, both of them having gone way past the intriguing line, and are well into annoying territory. What's worse is that all the emotional scab-picking drags the book, an ambitious but failed attempt to meld the hard-boiled detective story with the sitting room fair-play mysteries of Agatha Christie, et al., down into a morass of dubious psychobabble and self-pity.

Of course, the blend of the two genres isn't a complete success anyway (the gimmick is that these two allegedly hard-boiled eyes are hired to babysit a mystery party) but the constant whining only underscores the fact that neither genre is particularly well-served.

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Al for putting me straight on this one.


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