Created by Jonathan Lethem
When we last encountered author Jonathan Lethem in the P.I. waters, he was amusing us with various pistol-packing marsupials in Gun, With Occasional Music (1995), a wide-open sci-fi spoof/parody/tribute of the private eye genre, featuring private inquisitor Conrad Metcalf.
Now he's back, kicking out the jams with another intriguing private eye, LIONEL "FREAKSHOW" ESSROG. Lionel's a Brooklyn P.I. suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, tracking down the killer of his boss, friend, mentor and father figure Frank Minna. Seems enterprising hood Minna recruited Lionel, and his orphan friends when they were teenagers living at Saint Vincent's Home for Boys, and took them under his wing, using them to move stolen goods and other odd jobs, eventually training them to become investigators. When Minna's bleeding body is found in a dumptster, it's time to repay some debts.
Lionel's quite a character, annoying and endearing, pitiful and inspiring, as he battles Tourette's as well as the usual P.I. stuff, in this literary tour-de-force that in lesser hands would have been a pretentious, ungainly show-offy mess, but goodgoshamighty that Lethem can write....
In fact, Motherless Brooklyn won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the CWA/Macallan God Dagger For Fiction.
Not too shabby.
Not too shabby at all.
For what it's worth, it's one of my all-time favourite P.I. novels.
-- Kirkus Reviews
-- Ann from Overbooked
-- Yvonne Klein on MysInDepth, April 2000
Famous Writers Who Have Dipped Their Toes in the P.I. Pool
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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