BLUE (As In Dead): A Harry Simmons Mystery
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Harry Simmons: a definite cut above Oct 24, 2008
By Dr. Johnny
This is one of those books that you really need to enjoy by reading excerpts out loud with a good friend. Hilarious, quirky, sometimes beyond the wildest of imaginations, all begin to describe the characters and little vignettes surrounding the life of lead protagonist Harry Simmons in BLUE (As In Dead).
An old friend of mine, knowing that I like off-beat humor and a good murder mystery (difficult to find under one cover), not to mention insights into Seattle culture (which are sprinkled throughout BLUE like gold nuggets) sent me a copy of this new novel with the words "must read" on an attached Post-it. I took it on a recent trip to British Columbia and began this wonderful read on a two hour ferry crossing through the Gulf Islands. I was really irritated when the boat approached the Duke Point landing and I had to stuff the book into my back pack. (I'm sure the passengers around my wife and me wondered what the heck was so intriguing.)
Written with a big dose of crime noir, just like Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe, BLUE'S primary character Harry Simmons is a wise cracking, half-cynical, half-romantic, first-person narrative detective (actually Harry's an insurance adjustor). And he's very lucky with the ladies, I might add.
With BLUE, Zeigler has masterfully crafted a well researched Seattle based novel. The many fascinating story tangents are supported by the author's high octane and sometimes bizarre imagination. This is perhaps first realized in a scene toward the beginning of the book where a gorgeous young client of Harry's named Ramona meets up with a polygamous Mormon elder named Ezra, who is planning to wed her. Is Ezra ever in for a shocker!
One neat little touch throughout the book is the smattering of "Editor's Notes," which are oddly pertinent to the story, and which only a history buff with an encyclopedic mind for obscure trivia could conjure up. But I guess these "notes" are understandable, given that the author's bio says he is a history teacher (retired). I bet his classroom lectures were filled with digressions that students, in a state of disbelief, went home to google for factualism. Not a bad teaching technique.
Most readers of contemporary murder mysteries know of a worn Seattle based detective (no names) who has, well frankly, gotten a bit old (hint: think J.P., and I don't mean J.P. Patches the Seattle clown). If you liked that old S.P.D. cop, you will love Harry Simmons, who for my money is a definite cut above. I can't wait for the next episode!
In the Chandler tradition Oct 28, 2008
By Robert Collman
This is a mystery in the mould of Parker or Crais - not Christie. The dialog is sharp and often very funny and Simmons, an insurance adjuster, not only gets on with the investigation, but gets off as well. There are plenty of interesting, but plausable, characters to keep him busy.
The action is mostly in Seattle, giving LA, Boston and Miami a rest. The plot hangs together and there is enough action to keep the pages turning.
I look forward to the next effort from Mr. Zeigler.