Joe Grundy
Created by Marc Strange

So there I am, feeling homesick. And then Marc Strange's Sucker Punch (2007) arrived at my door.

As an editor and reviewer my mailbox is always full of treasures, and nothing delights this Canadian errant more than a package from home. I slashed open the envelope and dumped out the book, flipped it to the back cover blurb, and started to read.

JOE GRUNDY, ex-pug. Check.

Currently working the Lord Douglas, some swank joint in downtown Vancouver, as a hotel dick. Check.

Dipshit, suddenly rich kid gets a premature trip to the pearly gates, courtesy of five or so slugs, while on Joe's watch, and Joe has to do what a Joe's gotta do. Check.

Sounded good. IAnd of course I'm always in the market for a good Canadian P.I. and this one looked promising. Very promising, actually, after scanning the first few pages. This is going right to the top of my TBR pile, I thought.

Then I flipped the book back to the front cover. Talk about a sucker punch.

But alarming coincidences aside, this one was a keeper. The author has a knack for creating colourful (but not cartoony) characters that pays off when the going gets nasty, and he displays considerable narrative muscle.

In fact, the breezy style, Joe's easy-going manner and his developing relationship with an attractive TV reporter and a well-rendered fight scene between the ex-palooka and a bigger, stronger, younger opponent recalls nobody so much as early Robert B. Parker. I've read a lot of Canadian private eyes over the years, but Joe is one of the best and mosy enjoyable I've come across in a while. And a few years later, Jow returned with Body Blows, a worthy follow-up. I smell franchise here.

The author, Marc Strange, certainly have his Canadfian cred down pat. He was the co-creator of the long-running television series The Beachcombers -- I mean, how much more Canadian can you get? He's also bummed around in front of the cameras for years, appearing in numerous films and TV shows (Hey! Wasn't he biker number three?).



Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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