Max Klein

Created by Paul Benjamin (pseud. of Paul Auster)

"I had come to the limit of myself, and there was nothing left."

Paul Auster, the high-falutin' literary author of the New York Trilogy, a three-part philosophical tour-de-force, was once grounded enough to write a PBO as Paul Benjamin that features MAX KLEIN as "a tough New York shamus who delivers wisecracks as fast as his one-two punch," according to the cover blurb.

Actually, that's damning with faint praise. The fact is, both the Benjamin book and the New York Trilogy are well worth reading. Good writing is good writing, whether it's high-faluting scratching at the doors of perception or simply something to pass a few hours, and it's almost a shame we lost Auster to a "higher" calling.

Max is an appealling character and Squeeze Play (1982) is a good, solid read (and, incidentally, a very collectible one) about George Chapman, a former star baseball player who's decided to go into politics. When he starts receiving death threats, he hires a baseball fanatic -- our man Max -- to investigate.

Max is a streetwise P.I. with a penchant not just for wisecracks but also philosophical musings, and a busted-up marriage and a stint at the D.A.'s office behind him. He works out of a dinky office on West Broadway whose windows "haven't seen a sponge since Mr. Clean went bald" and whose walls are decorated with nine identical prints of Brueghel's Tower of Babel.

Definitely a sign that the author would soon be after slightly bigger (and possibly more peculiar) game...



Baseball P.I. Mysteries

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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