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My Favorite Detectives - fictional, of course
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I'm coming to the end of my current read (Turn Coat by Jim Butcher), and noticed the next book on top of the pile was the latest from C.J. Box. I started thinking about how interesting I find Box's detective character, Joe Pickett. Pickett is a game warden and employee of the federal government, a guy with a too-well-developed sense of right and wrong sometimes. He's a flawed guy, and he doesn't really choose his friends based on convenience but on what he really thinks of them. A great character.

I thought about the myriad of fictional detectives I've followed over the years, and I'm sure I'll forget to mention many of them. But the ones freshest in my mind right now are those of recent reads. Perhaps the freshest is John the Lord Chamberlain, the main character of Mary Reed's and Eric Mayer's Byzantine mysteries. I recently blogged about the last couple books in the series and about John in general. I find him to be an interesting character. He's likable to the reader, but I wonder if, aside from his buddies like Anatolius and maybe Isis, he is that well liked by his 'peers'. We get to see inside his head a bit, but to someone without that ability, I think he might be a frightening individual. I wonder if Felix the excubitor really likes him all that much, even.

Also I recently read a Harlan Coben, Live Wire. Of course, it features Coben's sports agent detective, Myron Bolitar, the ex-Duke basketball star whose NBA career was cut short by injury before it really even got started. Myron's got an interesting cast of friends, including Win Lockhorn and Esperanza Diaz. Myron's got some training that we readers aren't (as far as I remember) totally privy to. Training from the CIA or something like that. He's cynical, irreverent, and loyal to a fault, which gets him in tons of trouble. I really like Myron.

Of course I've read most of the Jonathan Kellerman series featuring psychologist Alex Delaware, a too-cool guy with everything going right for him, or so it seems. It's like, when something goes wrong for Dr. Delaware in his love life, you wonder how or why it could possibly go that way. It seems forced. Still, I've enjoyed the series and I do like Alex's 'partner' in detecting, police lieutenant Milo Sturgis, who is NOT perfect. Milo's overbearing, sort of crude, and gay. A gay detective in a heterosexual world is a neat twist, I think.

A series I've actually enjoyed a bit more recently than the Delaware books is Stephen White's Alan Gregory series. Gregory, like Delaware, is a psychologist, but Gregory is far from perfect. Flaws abound in his character. He's a good guy who is tormented by his own sense of ethics, and I think he has issues trying to see where his obligations to the patient end and his obligations to see that the information he might have be allowed to be used to prevent further injury to victims in these books. Sam Purdy is White's version of Milo, a big Minnesotan who is flawed himself, but in a lot of ways reminds me of Milo. I've enjoyed these mysteries as they shift focus between Sam and Alan.

I also have enjoyed the exploits of Skye Dennison, a school psychologist in a series of mysteries penned by Denise Swanson. I like them more, I think, because they are set in my neck of the woods, the far southwest suburbs of Chicago and communities a bit further out. Skye finds too many bodies, as do a lot of 'cozy' mystery sleuths, but yet it seems plausible when these situations rise up around her. If there's a weak point, it's her relationships with the chief of police and the local mortician. I don't know what I want Swanson to do differently; it just doesn't feel right to me. Maybe it's too 'romance-y' for me. But it certainly doesn't affect my enjoyment of the series.

Along the same lines, I've enjoyed an awful lot of Carolyn Hart's 'Death On Demand' mysteries, centered on a small island off the Carolina coast, where Annie Lawrence Darling, our intrepid amateur sleuth, runs a specialty mystery bookstore. It's another of those 'too many bodies around this person' types of series, but that's just the way it is (in this type of series in general). I really like Annie and her supporting cast, including mystery author Emma Clyde (who pens the fictional mystery series featuring her sleuth Marigold Rembrandt), husband Max Darling (a lawyer who 'solves problems', but don't call him a private detective because he's not licensed), Max's mother Laurel, and bookstore patron Henny Brawley among others. It's an island where very rich people live among island residents who provide the support services for them, so there are tons of scenarios for mysteries. I like Hart's style.

There are many other detectives I've read, like Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly), Lincoln Rhyme (Jeffrey Deaver), Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton), Elvis Cole (Robert Crais), Tess Monaghan (Laura Lippman), Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matt Scudder (both Lawrence Block), but it's been a while since I've visited with them.

So that will have to do for now. A fun bunch if I do say so myself.


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