Easily one of the more interesting recent additions to the pantheon of Florida tough guys, hard-luck Miami builder JOHN DEAL is also one of the more complex examples of that character type.
Unlike Travis McGee or Thorn, whose lifestyle permits them to take time out for dragon-slaying pretty much at will, Deal has professional and family obligations that take up a lot of his time. Besides trying to rebuild DealCo, the construction company left in shambles by his late father, Deal is constantly handling the emotional demands of his annoyingly neurotic wife, Janice. Also unlike Trav and Thorn, Deal doesn't go looking for trouble. When it comes to John Deal, trouble makes house calls.
Aided by his friend and tenant, ex-MPD detective Vernon Driscoll, who is far smarter and tougher than his sloppy, burnt-out demeanor would suggest, Deal has proved himself equal to challenges mounted from a variety of sources, including land developers, a mega-bookstore chain, Latin American terrorists and corrupt government officials.
Deal's complexity aside, what many readers will find most compelling in Les Standiford's series are the dead-on descriptions of Miami and its denizens and the action scenes. Ah! The action scenes! Whether it be a fight to the death on an abandoned stilt city in Biscayne Bay, a hurricane in the Bahamas, or a driverless Ferrari used as an offensive weapon, Standiford can nail you to the Barcalounger at will and seemingly without trying. This guy puts the thrill back in thriller. And he's also written some non-series books as well, such as Spill and Black Mountain.
In my opinion, given my definition of a private eye -- one engaged in an investigation for a private party or for private reasons -- Deal deserves to be mentioned on this site. And Standiford is simply one of the very best crime fiction writers alive.
Respectfully submitted by Paul Bergin.
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