Richard Yancey’s spectacular and suspenseful novel—first in a brand-new series—features a lovable but bumbling P.I. whose first case begins with the hit-and-run killing of a gaggle of geese.
“Full of wry humor and action.” —Boston Globe
Meet Teddy Ruzak. After his mother dies, Teddy quits his job as a night watchman to fulfill his childhood dream of being a detective. With little planning and even less foresight, he hangs up his shingle and hires his favorite waitress from the local diner to be his Girl Friday.
“A colorful, memorable detective . . .full of great humor…Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
And his first case? Bringing to justice the thoughtless driver who mows down six baby geese. Not the most exciting assignment—until Teddy’s “wild-goose chase” quickly evolves into an investigation of a vicious murder.
“Quick-moving and funny.”
—Entertainment Weekly (A “Hot” pick)
About the Author
Richard Yancey is the author of the novels A Burning in Homeland and The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. Alfred Kropp is the debut novel in a Young Adult series; Publishers Weekly named it one of the best books of 2005. Yancey’s memoir, Confessions of a Tax Collector, was published to wide critical acclaim in 2004 and was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by The Christian Science Monitor. The Highly Effective Detective is his first novel in the Teddy Ruzak series. Richard lives in Flordia with his wife and three sons.
Read an Excerpt
The Highly Effective Detective
By Richard Yancey
St. Martin's MinotaurCopyright © 2008 Richard Yancey
All right reserved.
I’d had this dopey idea to be a detective ever since my mother gave me an illustrated Sherlock Holmes book for my tenth birthday. For months, I walked around the house with a bubble pipe and two baseball caps on my head, one turned backward so I would have that double-billed look. I outgrew the ball caps and the pipe, but never my dream of being a detective.
Then when I was twelve, somebody gave me one of those Encyclopedia Brown books, about a boy detective who was smarter than his own father, the chief of police no less, and solved all the crimes for him. The answer to each mystery was in the back of the book for those people like me who wanted to play detective but could never figure out what the solution was. I liked that kid detective so much, I started calling myself “Dictionary Ruzak,” because “Encyclopedia” was already taken.
After high school, I went to the Police Academy, but they kicked me out. I couldn’t run fast enough, and I never could pass the driving and the marksmanship tests. Then they put me in what they called “scenario training” and the bad guy always killed me. I must have a died a hundred times, and would have died a hundred more, but the Academy concluded I wasn’t cut outfor police work.
After I flunked out of the Academy, I took a job as a guard with a company that provided security for a local bank. I wore a black uniform with a gold badge embroidered on the shoulder. I had the midnight shift, which I liked. It was quiet, I had a chance to read or listen to the radio, and nothing ever happened. I worked there for fourteen years. For ten of those years I lived with my parents, until Dad died of a heart attack and Mom told me if I didn’t move out, I never would, because with him gone, the temptation would be too great to live with and take care of her as an excuse not to strike out on my own. She kept on me to go to college. I worked nights, so my days were free, but somehow, like a lot of things people plan for, I never got around to it. I also could never figure out how I was going to work a full-time job, go to college, and sleep.
So the day came when I was thirty-three years old and was still doing the same thing I’d been doing when I was nineteen. I was hunkered down. Flunking out of the Police Academy had taken something out of me, a pretty big chunk of my resolve or spirit or whatever you want to call it, and I was waiting for something. I couldn’t put my finger on what I was waiting for. Maybe it was some kind of mystical call to action, but I was never the type who believed we all have a destiny to fulfill, like a cosmic apple hanging from a tree that we wait till it’s ripe to pluck. My outlook on life tended toward the prosaic. I wasn’t much of a dreamer or go-getter, since the two usually go hand in hand. But sometimes, usually midway through my shift, about 3:00 a.m., when things were their most quiet and I was tired of reading and all the late-night radio talk shows had signed off, I would feel an aching somewhere in the vicinity of my heart, not in the heart itself, but about two or three inches below it, which I interpreted as some soft groaning of my unfulfilled soul, only I didn’t know what to do about it except wait for it to go away.
Copyright © 2006 by Richard Yancey
Excerpted from The Highly Effective Detective by Richard Yancey Copyright © 2008 by Richard Yancey. Excerpted by permission.
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What People are Saying About This
“A spectacular start. . . one of the most well regarded—and enjoyed—mystery debuts of the year.” —Publishers Weekly
“An ironic antihero . . . the story is fun and quick. Teens who enjoy Lawrence Block’s ‘Burglar’ books will find that this one appeals as well.” —School Library Journal
“Funny the way Donald E. Westlake’s novels are funny . . . Witty remarks abound, and the central character is a keeper.” —Booklist
“Move over, Sam Spade. A priceless nebbish has joined the private-eye ranks. An adorably quixotic adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Disarming and delightful.” —Providence Journal
“A compelling protagonist. . .his rambling thoughts contain wonderful truths and bits of brilliant insight. Mature teen readers will enjoy this mystery, especially if they are fans of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. A solid mystery with the potential to appeal to older teens.” —VOYA
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is for the reader that enjoys a cerebral detective. Who attempts to balance moral and ethical aspects while solving the crime. It is a humorous book too. If you are looking for hard hitting, high action, blood and guts this book is not for you. To other readers such as myself I am sure you will enjoy it very much. I am on the 4th book in the series.
In Knoxville, Tennessee Theodore 'Teddy' Ruzak dreamed of becoming a detective ever since his mom gave him an illustrated Holmes book for his tenth birthday. Encyclopedia Brown enhanced his aspirations, but following high school he failed at the Police Academy. He became a guard and still remains one today at thirty three years old. A week before dying, his mom informs him that he will inherit plenty of money soon not long after she died Teddy quits his day job to become a private sleuth since he has enough money to live out his dream. --- Unlicensed and unperturbed, Teddy opens up his firm and quickly obtains his first client and a paying one at that. Parker Hudson informs him that the police laughed at his complaint about a killer getting away with the crime of running over six goslings he wants the culprit brought to justice so does elderly visitor Eunice Shriver (not the Yankee one). With the help of his faithful office assistant Felicia, when she is not watching her son, he begins investigating the mass murders of the baby geese, but soon finds himself in the midst of a human homicide too. --- This amusing investigative tale stars one of the best protagonists to work the trade in years and will be considered one of the best of 2006. The story line is filled with plenty of realistic twists, but is driven by Teddy, who turns from pathetic loser into THE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE DETECTIVE. The investigation is fun to follow as Teddy blunders and meanders in his wild goose chase pursuit that turns into a whodunit that is light years beyond his experience. Readers will adore his courage and perseverance as he refuses to quit. --- Harriet Klausner
Teddy Ruzak decides to open a detective agency in Knoxville, TN. Although his first case (finding out who ran over some baby ducks) seems rather flimsy, a murder ensues and Teddy is in the thick of it, despite the fact that his detecting skills seem minimal at best. Some interesting secondary characters, such as a waitress-turned-secretary who misses lots of work and an old woman who confesses to crimes she reads about in the newspaper, add to the overall enjoyment of this first novel in what will hopefully become a series. I was initially drawn to this novel because the Knoxville setting is my hometown, but I will go back for seconds and thirds if Teddy Ruzak has further detecting adventures.
Bad language ruins it.