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My Darling Detective by Howard Norman

My Darling Detective

by Howard Norman

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Told in the first person, this novel is a neo-noir story of Jacob and his fiancee Martha, who is the darling detective. Jacob's trajectory from being a factotem for an elderly art collector, then disgraced, then a graduate student in librarianship provides the structure for his quest to uncover the secrets of his past. His librarian mother has been hospitalized for mental illness, he has never known his father, and Martha is a city detective with access to all kinds of information about his family. The characters are quirky and appealing, and the story of Jacob and Martha's romance is sweet and engaging. The mystery of Jacob's past is pretty secondary to the characters but moves the story along to a satisfying conclusion. ( )
  sleahey | Apr 20, 2017 |
3.5 Halifax, 1970's and Jacob is working for a wealthy woman, placing bids at auctions for photographs or photographic collections. His mother, a former library director, is a resident of a local mental hospital for defacing a photograph at a, auction, a photograph showing three men and taken by Capa. The police team investigating the incident includes Jacob's fiancée Martha.

So the story begins with a misstep made by Jacob, archangel in career path follows and he will soon learn much more about his mother and the man he was told was his father, revelations that will put him and his little family in danger.

This is not an edge of your seat thriller, the pacing and plot is even toned throughout. I love that this author writes in straightforward prose, not at all dramatically. Has a noir and old fashioned feel, he creates this atmosphere by the dialogue he uses and it is much aided by the police radio drama that is a staple of Martha and Jacobs life together. This provides for a quick moving and interesting foray into the past, an atmospheric read, with some interesting characters and revelations.

ARC by Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | Apr 11, 2017 |
I finished reading this book because I liked the characters but I have to say that, overall, it was a disappointment. It was not spellbinding or thriller like. That a police officer would be able to investigate a family (or almost family) member is unheard of, as is letting a relative of a perpetrator have access to so much case information. I enjoyed the repartee that took place among the characters but found the story unrealistic. ( )
  bogopea | Apr 1, 2017 |
I believe this book is meant to emulate the hard boiled mystery novels and radio shows of the 1930s-1940s, but unfortunately it fails to capture the spirit of those works. Instead this book is plodding and dull. Any interesting crimes and betrayals are lost within the dull minutiae of daily life of the characters. Not recommended. ( )
  librarianarpita | Feb 2, 2017 |
Showing 4 of 4
Norman knows how to weave an enticing and satisfying mystery, one tantalizing thread at a time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544236106, Hardcover)

A witty, engrossing homage to noir from National Book Award finalist Howard Norman

Jacob Rigolet, a soon-to-be former assistant to a wealthy art collector, looks up from his seat at an auction—his mother, former head librarian at the Halifax Free Library, is walking almost casually up the aisle. Before a stunned audience, she flings an open jar of black ink at master photographer Robert Capa’s “Death on a Leipzig Balcony.” Jacob’s police detective fiancée, Martha Crauchet, is assigned to the ensuing interrogation. In My Darling Detective, Howard Norman delivers adelivers a fond nod to classic noir, as Jacob’s understanding of the man he has always assumed to be his father unravels against the darker truth of Robert Emil, a Halifax police officer suspected but never convicted of murdering two Jewish residents during the shocking upswing of anti-Semitism in 1945. The denouement, involving a dire shootout and an emergency delivery—it’s the second Rigolet to be born in the Halifax Free Library in a span of three decades—is Howard Norman at his “provocative . . . haunting”* and uncannily moving best.  
*Janet Maslin, New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 02 Dec 2016 17:21:43 -0500)

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