Richard Yancey, author of The Highly Effective Detective has now written a sequel featuring his laughable, lovable, compassionate and bumbling private investigator, Teddy Ruzak. In The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs, Teddy's business is closed down by the state of Tennessee because he has failed to pass the P.I. test.
He befriends a homeless man and gives him his hat, which changes both of their lives. The next day Teddy discovers the body of this same homeless man in an alley outside his office and his conscience leads him to investigate the death. But it is not the investigation that intrigued me. Teddy is such a marvelous creation with a brain full of miscellaneous trivia, a habit of speaking in non-sequiturs, and a strong appreciation of the odd ball characters that he meets.
His interactions with his long suffering secretary, his wanting to adopt a stray dog, his questions and doubts about God and his care and compassion for the eighty-plus, Eunice Shriver, who has attached herself to him in order to write his biography, make him an endearing character.
"I pulled a random page from Eunice Shriver's manuscript and read this:
'You would think living alone would free me from all the normal burdens of responsibility that people complain or worry about, but all living alone does is increase your psychological weight, as if your soul were living on Jupiter. It tends to make you more important to yourself and exaggerate your problems to the point that they're insurmountable afflictions.'
The passage got my heart rate up. Not only did it strike me as eerily prescient, it even sounded like something I would say. Either Eunice Shriver had found her way into my head or I had indeed found my way into hers."
"I had read somewhere that God is to us as we are to dogs, that the gulf separating our intellects must be, if God is God, wider than the universe. Archie sensed I cared for him. He sensed his entire existence relied upon my tender feelings. But my thoughts were unfathomable, unknowable, and so he stared, unable to reach me except through signals as easily interpretable to me as mine were ineffable to him."
An unknown caller with possible information about the murder keeps calling Teddy, but remains silent.
"'You know', I said into the phone, 'this is a little like praying. I talk and hope you are listening, and I don't expect a reply. At least, not a direct one. Look, I can't help you and you can't help me -- or yourself -- unless you tell me what you want. What do you want?'"
In trying to solve the murder, Teddy remarks, "I ascribed meaning to everything, even to things that had no meaning or no potential meaning…Life is pretty damned random, and maybe it was the randomness that terrified me."
I can sympathize. I spent a fun evening musing along with Teddy Ruzak, the highly effective detective.