Joe Hussey
Created by Colin Dunne

From the blurb for Hooligan:

As part-time SAS man, a Hooligan from Hereford; part-time private-eye; and - for cover - part-time garage hand, Joe Hussy needs all his faculties, not least his wit, to stay alive. When schoolteacher Charles Noble hires Hussy to track down his missing brother, then gets shot at in the most unlikely circumstances, Hussy's interest quickens...There's a lot more to these brothers than meets the eye, and soon Hussy finds himself on a trail that takes him from Beirut to Alberta and leads to the discovery of a chain of terrorism as wide as it is complex.

Despite what you might imagine from the above synopsis Hooligan is a PI book. And an excellent one at that.

Well written, and in the first person - as it should be. Retired spy JOE HUSSEY works as a private eye, trying to live a relatively quiet suburban life, but the British Secret Service always seems to be lurking in the shadows. He has a lot in common with the character Callan that Edward Woodward played on TV for several years.

In Hooligan, he's hired by the rasther pompous head of a boys' school whose brother seems to have fallen among bad companions.

Here is the opening:

“It's not everyone who wants to have a hedgehog named after him. All in all, Charles Noble took it pretty well.

'What's your name?' I asked him, as the two of us leaned over the shoebox and peered down on it. There wasn't much to see. It looked like a tennis ball dressed to repel boarders.

“Noble, he said, mistaking this for matiness. 'Charles Noble. And you're Joe Hussey, I gather.'

I ignored his outheld hand and gazed down at the bundle of spikes.

'In that case, we'll call him Charlie.'

'The Hedgehog?' He gazed at his namesake, then at me.

'People give their name to Battleships. Why not to Hedgehogs?'

'Do you know,' he began, his face softening with pleasure, 'I do believe I'm rather flattered. Might I ask why I am so honoured?'

'Because when you talk your nose twitches at the end, like his.'

His slim fingers touched the end of his nose as a slight frown shadowed his face. 'I'm still flattered,' he said,' although by your reasoning, I should have thought that perhaps Joe would be a more appropriate name.'

This time it was my turn to look puzzled.

'You're something of a prickly little customer yourself,' he said.

I liked that. I wouldn't like to think I'd gone to all that trouble to be awkward without anyone having noticed it.

Prickly but proud.

Although, if I'd known the trouble both Charles were going to cause me, I'd have evicted the pair of them there and then.”

This passage not only introduces these two characters but the dialogue also establishes them accurately as people. His speech establishes Charles as a somewhat pompous upper middleclass Englishman who is a shrewd thinker, while Hussey comes off as the cynical PI with a softer heart. (at least for the hedgehog).

It seems that throughout the history of the P.I. genre, American heroes frequently have a military background. World War I, World War II, then Korea, then Vietnam, then Iraq, whereas the British version often has a background in the Irish Conflict.

The writing implies that there is a back story, and evidently there was a previous book -- Ratcatcher, published in 1985.

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by. Eric Chambers, with additional legwork by Kevin Burton Smith


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