Beauford Sloan

Created by Raymond Austin

I guess it helps to have friends.

The Eagle Heist (2000), the debut novel by screenwriter and television director Raymond Austin, has an intro by actor Wilford Brimley, and damn if that doesn't look like Wilford his own bad self on the cover, posing as Austin's new private eye hero, BEAUFORD SLOAN.

Beauford is a retired police officer turned Virginian gumshoe, getting a little long in the tooth (and, I guess, a little full in the mustache), who's called in to investigate the robbery of sixteen million dollars worth of diamonds and three million in cash from an armoured truck in Washington, DC. That Sloan bares a often-remarked-upon resemblance to Brimley should comes as no surprise. It turns out Brimley and the author are friends, and have known each other since they were stunt men in the good old days, and at one point Brimley had expressed his desire to play the detective in the anticipated television movie based on the novel.

See what I mean about having friends? Although I have to wonder if it's the right thing to do.

Not that this is necessarily a hack job. After a long career in film and television, including directing several episodes of such TV classics as The Avengers and The Saint, one can only hope that Austin knows a little about writing memorable characters, snappy dialogue and a plot that keeps zipping along. At least, I hope so.

Has anyone read any of these? I notice, from scanning a few reviews and readers' comments, that the detective's resemblance to Mr. Oatmeal to played down by the third book, and that the one audiobook in the series wasn't narrated by him either, suggesting that the gimmick -- or perhaps the friendship -- has run out of gas.

UNDER OATH

  • "Austin knows how to create detailed characters...and an exciting plot. An excellent debut and a real find."

-- Booklist, Oct. 1, 2000

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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