When I read the publisher’s description for Harry Lipkin, Private Eye by Barry Fantoni, I started chuckling at the mental image I got. I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Like detective stories and/or mysteries? Well, this one is going to be a bit different from most of the ones you’ve read in the past. As a popular poster says, “Growing old is not for sissies.” If any book can help you appreciate that, it’s this one. I was delighted when I won Harry Lipkin, Private Eye in a giveaway. Now I’m paying it forward and one lucky reader will win an advance readers copy (ARC) of their very own!
“Every now and then during the tourist season you’d see someone who was born in Miami. Someone who actually lives there. All year round. Pays city taxes. You’d know them right off. They would be my age and look like somebody who would rather be living someplace else.”
At age 87, Harry Lipkin is probably the world’s oldest private detective. He’s certainly the oldest one in Florida, the place where a lot of elderly still retire in droves. He lives in Warmheart, Florida near Miami. He may have slowed down since his hey-day but he still gets the job done and anybody who thinks otherwise is in for a big surprise.
“’If you get lost, call out. There will always be a nurse somewhere close. They will help you.’
‘I’ll manage just fine,’ I said and tipped my hat. ‘I’m pretty good at finding my way around places I’ve never been before. Last Sukkoth I hiked alone through the Big Cypress. Six days wandering in the swamps with nothing but a compass and a bowie knife.’
Bettina de Vries’ mouth did something funny. A sort of twitch like when you suffer a minor stroke.”
These days he specializes in cases the Miami police don’t have time for, and that’s fine with him. He did his time on the big cases as a cop. Now he’s content to work the small stuff for retired folks. It’s a living and since his mother lived well into her hundreds, he needs the income and he figures he’s got the time. Retired people come to him because he actually listens to them and takes them seriously, unlike some of those know-it-all kids running things these days.
“Cops want serial homicide. It makes them feel good when they catch someone. But how tough is it to catch a serial killer? You put his picture on TV. Nationwide. You wait. Ten days later a schoolteacher on her lunch break spots him…Before you know it, he’s surrounded by a million cops telling him to drop everything and freeze. And then they shoot him.”
So Harry isn’t surprised when the widow Norma Weinberger contacts him. Norma lives on an estate left to her by her wealthy husband Isaac, a well-known hat manufacturer. She’s all alone, except for her staff, and some of her personal belonging have gone missing. Nothing big is gone, just small personal items that have sentimental as well as monetary value. She feels her staff are her family and it grieves her to believe one of them could be stealing from her, yet she can’t imagine who else could have taken her things.
Harry listens to Norma’s story and assures her that he will find out who’s at the bottom of the thefts. It should be a piece of cake since the suspect list is very limited. It’s just a matter of checking time/date alibis as well as each one’s background and then finding the one who needs the money. Easy enough, right? Wrong! Even as Harry interviews and investigates the oddball household staff, more items go missing. This is one bold thief and that ticks Harry off! He’s determined this case will not beat him and he’ll do anything to solve it!
“Steve stuck his face close to mine.
‘Snooping can get a guy into a lot of trouble,’ he said. ‘The kind of trouble they got no cure for.’
‘Trouble,’ I said and laughed at him. ‘Don’t tell me about trouble. Jews invented it. We’re still here. All thirteen million. And I am still here. Alive and kicking.’”
Harry Lipkin is a mensch. Someone described him as part Sam Spade and part Woody Allen, which is an apt description. He’s an irascible guy with a heart of gold and a big mouth. Needless to say, I liked him immediately! Norma may not have grown up in the South but she is one of the South’s dear ol’ things. She’d drop her loaded purse in the middle of an airport, with contents scattering to the wind, put both hands on her face and cry out, “Oh no,” as only a dear ol’ thing can. Then every man around her would scramble to pick up her stuff and make everything just right again. The various staff members, who I haven’t talked about in my review for spoiler reasons, are a diverse bunch. They range from hilarious to touching to vaguely sinister, at least on the surface.
Barry Fantoni has written a funny yet touching whodunit with a main character I fell in love with. My grandfather once said, “You look at me and see an old man but I’m really 24 years old inside – if only my body would cooperate.” I think that fits Harry Lipkin to a tee. If you like a fun whodunit then you’ll want to check out Harry Lipkin, Private Eye. He’ll definitely grow on you!
Can’t wait to read it?
Harry Lipkin, Private Eye was published on July 10, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win an ARC of Harry Lipkin, Private Eye by Barry Fantoni!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 8/18/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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