Jake Cardigan
Created by William Shatner

When I first heard about this one, I was all set to lace into this one. I mean, T.J. Hambone a writer? But he pulled it off. Nothing earth-shattering, but decent enough entertainment. In the not-too-distant future, JAKE CARDIGAN (great P.I. name, that) is a disgraced ex-cop and ex-con fresh out of "The Freezer," a prison that keeps its inmates in suspended animation, on trumped-up charges of dealing Tek, a highly-addictive and deadly controlled substance. Jake has been sprung early from his fifteen year sentence by a former cop buddy who wants him to go to work with him for the Cosmos Detective Agency of Greater Los Angeles. Needless to say, the thought of tracking down those who framed him crosses his mind.

Jake does all the right private eye things, in a surprisingly bleak Southern California. A sequel might be interesting. And it would keep Shatner from making more bad movies...

Speaking of movies, I wondered when I first read this if that was Shatner's game plan. Jake tends to think out loud, a polite term for speaking to himself. And given Shakespearean-trained Shatner's propensity for bloated soliloquies and the fact that he and Jake are about the same age, one couldn't help but wonder if a movie deal or something was in the works.

Or something, as it turned out. The first novel was the first step in a multi-media blitz. The subsequent novels, comic book adaptations and made-for-television films and syndicated series have been astoundingly average at best. I was wrong about the movie deal -- turns out it's been produced as a bunch of made-for-tv flicks (featuring Greg "B.J. and the Bear" Evigan as Jake). And the Captain kept pumping out the books at an alarming rate, although Jake's status as a P.I. at this point is sort of questionable...

Still, Shatner pulled it off -- at least for the first novel, which was actually kinda fun. Or at least someone using Shatner's name. Rumours abound that Ron Goulart actually wrote the first (and possibly subsequent) books. Maybe. After all, Goulart is explicitly thanked in the dedication to each book, and "Goulartian" touches abound. But the books just don't seem good enough (or wacky enough, for that matter) to have been written by Goulart, the Salvador Dali of sci-fi. Maybe he was slumming (Definitely, it turns out. See True Confessions below), or he let Shatner sit at the keyboards for a while.

Still, what with Shatner's clout as Captain Kirk, the whole venture has been nauseatingly lucrative, spinning off into television and comic book deals. The worst part, of course, is that Shatner probably now thinks he's a great writer.

File under "Cheesy, pulpy sci-fi/P.I. pastische".






Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And a big thanks to Gerald So and Mike Clark for clarifying the waters here a bit.

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