"Private eyes make lousy husbands... when you're working, the hours suck; if you're not working, the money sucks."
A promising young minor league ball player for the Richmond Sailors, amiable New Jersey-born MARK RENZLER's dreams of the big time were crushed by a wild pitch that left him blind in one eye.
He tried college, dropped out and eventually tried police work (with the NYPD) and marriage (with Amy) but neither really worked out, and by 1958 he was pounding the streets of the Big Apple as a private eye, working out of the spare bedroom on 118 West in Manhattan, occasionally crossing over -- against his better judgement -- into New Jersey.
The subtly retro series stretches from the early sixties (and a second failed marriage) through to the mid-seventies, allowing Mark to dabble in the casual sexism, vices and simple pleasures of another era; more interested, it often seems, in smoking and drinking and dames than in anything like truth or justice. But to creator Engleman's credit, he never hits you over the head with nostalgia, but let's it seep in around the edges.
Mark works alone, generally, but he does occasionally call on Nate Moore, a huge bruiser of a painter and his drinking buddy when he needs a little muscle. He also sometimes calls upon Melissa Kramer, a New York Times reporter, for info, and by Catch a Fallen Angel (1986), set in 1969, Mark was known to consider her the "woman I should have married."
At first glance, Mark's your typical P.I., suitably tough, complete with a body marked by several knife and bullet scars, but he's also a surprisingly easy-going schlub, if not always politically correct. He confesses that he's a "tit man," that he doesn't like children, and he's something of a slob.
At one point, he cheerfully offers a litany of his personal habits: "1 1/2 packs of Camels a day, 2 1/2 cases of Rheinegold a week" and he "gets laid 3 1/2 times a month."
Paul Engleman is the author of eight novels, including Dead in Center Field (1983), Renzler's debut, which nabbed him both the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus award and Japan's Falcon award. A second series, with Second City sleuth Phil Moony, includes The Man With My Name and The Man With My Cat. A two-time winner of the Peter Lisagor award given by the Society of Professional Journalists, Engleman's articles, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous publications, including AARP, Playboy, Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, the Chicago Reader, the Huffington Post, and The Rotarian. His weekly column Diary of a Dad Housewife ran in the Chicago Sun-Times. Originally from Wayne, New Jersey, Engleman attended Beloit College in Wisconsin. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs |
Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.