John Kenneth Galbraith Jantarro

Created by Simon Ritchie (pseudonym of Simon Fodden)

Toronto insurance investigator JOHN KENNETH GALBRATH JANTARRO (talk about your four-barrelled names!) lost his left hand and part of his arm to a pair of sadistic prison guards and an incompetent prison doctor.

Upon his release from prison, he sued everything that moved, and won a lot of money. He makes no bones about it, and in fact employs a lawyer almost full time to make sure he gets all he's entitled to. But he'd rather work for a living. And he does, as a self-employed private eye with a very good reputation in Toronto.

He's no superman, mind you -- he's certainly got his flaws, and he's refreshingly vulnerable (suffering through the effects of a blow to the head throughout much of his 1986 debut, The Hollow Woman). But in his fierce determination and harsh pride not to be held back, he's reminiscent of Michael Collins' Dan Fortune and Dick Francis' Sid Halley, and he's certainly one of the more appealing private eyes to come out of Toronto.

In fact, I still have fond memories of the second novel, Work for a Dead Man (1989), which boasts a great confrontation between Jantarro and a Komodo dragon.

Which makes it a true bummer that he only appeared in two excellent books, written by Simon Ritchie, the pen name for a Toronto law professor Simon Fodden. Although, curiously enough, Simon Ritchie was the real name of doomed Sex Pistol Sid Vicious.

What's the story on that, prof?


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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