Chicago's own ED and AM HUNTER are one of the best, and most endearing and beloved private eye teams in the genre, and Fredric Brown's one of the best writers to ever grace the genre, so what's not to like?
Young, brash, ambitious, idealistic Ed Hunter and his uncle Am, a cheerful, chubby, streetwise ex-carny with a taste for poker, run the Hunter and Hunter Detective Agency in Chicago and it's often Ed, wearing his heart on his sleeve, who ends up falling head over heels for some "skirt", who leads them into some of the most entertaining, and offbeat, capers in detective fiction. I particularly liked Death Has Many Doors, where a young woman is convinced that Martians are out to get her.
But the undisputed highlight of the series and a stone-cold classic of the P.I. genre is definitely the one that kicked off the series: The Fabulous Clipjoint, an alternately heart-warming and darkly grim meditation on obsession, coming-of-age and the ensuing weight of maturity. Bill Pronzin referred to it, in 1001 Midnights, as "unquestionably more than just another hard-boiled detective tale."
And he's right. It won an Edgar for Best First Novel, but awards seem trivial compared to the emotional punch that this book packs. Not that Brown was some literary joykill -- he also posessed one of the hinkiest senses of humour in the genre. He once wrote a book called Murder Can Be Fun, and in the Ed and Am series, he went about proving it.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. And thanks, Graham.
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