Transplanted northerner LEW (or is it Calvin?) FONESCA is an unlicensed peeper, bargain basement dick and process server living out of his office overlooking the Dairy Queen on 301 in Sarasota, Florida.
But, like he says, "any citizen can make inquiries."
Mind you, Lew's in a bit better position than most citizens to make those inquiries -- he used to be an investigator for the State Attorney's Office in Cook County, Illinois. Okay, he'd grown tired of the job, and he was undergoing something of a mid-life crisis. But that was before his wife was killed by a hit-and-run driver. He quit his job, packed his grief and headed south, just as another long, cold Chicago winter was coming on.
He moved to Florida, and started to ask questions for people, at a whopping $50.00 a day, plus expenses. He tends to get involved, though he prefers to be left alone, with helping women and children in trouble. Lew has an assortment of friends who help him from time to time, including the owner of the DQ, an old man named Ames who knows how to use a gun and drives a motor scooter, a senior citizen of a psychologist who enjoys telling Lew how he is screwing up, and a wealthy alcoholic woman who loves country and western music and has a vocabulary that would make Marge Shott blush. There are others including a Black petty thief named Snickers who knows everything that goes on in Sarasota's underworld and...a developing love interest.
Lew's appeared in several short stories so far, including the aptly-titled "Snow Birds." His character's changed a bit from story to story, and in one story, he tells his client to call him Cal, as if Kaminsky's still sanding some rough edges off the character before he commits him to a novel.
So far, two of the fonesca stories were nominated for Edgars and several of which have appeared in various volumes of "Best" stories of the year. As well, there have been a handful of novels.
Kaminsky, of course, created Golden Age of Hollywood gumshoe Toby Peters, but anyone expecting the occassionally wacky screwball antics of Peters to be repeated here are in for a surprise -- although they do have their moments these books are generally much darker in tone, and much more psychologically complex, dealing with questions of grief and depression.
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