John Easy
Created by Ron Goulart

.........

Oh, the grooviness.

JOHN EASY's a private eye, Southern California division., sub-category: the 1970s.

He's "tall, wide-shouldered man of thirty-two, dark and rough-edged" with a taste for expensive sportscoats... and turtlenecks. A no-nonsense kinda guy with little patience for evasiveness. Brusque, tends to interrupt people, bring 'em back to the original line of questioning. Cases usually revolve around beautiful, but alas, missing women. Doesn't matter, though, the cases are just an excuse for Easy to tool around in his beat-up, broken-down, dusty black VW through a rather bizarre, surreal state-of-mind called California, the "wacko capital of the world."

And sure enough, the wackos show up. In droves. Recurring characters include Hagopian, an Armenian playboy and writer for TV Look, who seems to have files on everyone, and Lieutenant Alvin of the San Ignacio Police, who has a thing for sniffing ladies' undergarments.

Coming from Goulart, though, such hijinks to be expected. He's best known for his goofy sci-fi stories and parodies. What's surprising is how convincingly he pulls off the Chandleresque tone and the Ross Macdonald sensibility.

Easy first appeared, in a slightly different form, in a story titled "The Tin Ear" in the September 1966 issue of AHMM, but by the time he reappeared in his first novel, If Dying Was All (1971), he was decidedly hipper, and not above getting it on. Imagine Lew Archer or Philip without the hang-ups. And check out that turtleneck! Those babes! That ascot! We are talking one serious seventies stud here -- Hefner woulda loved this guy!

A pleasant surprise. It should also be mentioned that Goulart is quite well-known for his encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and old-time pulp magazines, and a long string of sci-fi/P.I. hybrids, featuring such gumshoes as Jake and Hildy Pace, Ben Jolson, Jim Haley, Max Kearney and even co-created Jake Cardigan, along with William "T. J. Hambone" Shatner.

NOVELS

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Tin Ear" (September 1966, AHMM; also Best Detective Stories #22)
  • "You Have to Stay Dead for So Long" (September 1976, Mystery)
  • "They're Gonna Kill You After Awhile" (1976, reprinted Fall 1995, Noir)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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