Things aren't going so well for Brian McKechnie. His wife was attacked in their home, his cat was brutally killed and now a man with a suspiciously erratic accent is blackmailing him. When the police fail spectacularly at finding out who's after him, McKechnie engages the services of London's most unusual private eye.
Duffy is a detective like no other. A bisexual ex-policeman with a phobia of ticking watches and a penchant for Tupperware. But what he lacks in orthodoxy he makes up for in street-smart savvy and no-nonsense dealings. Intrigued by McKechnie's dilemma and the apparent incompetency of his ex-colleagues, Duffy heads to his old patch, the seedy underbelly of Soho, to begin inquiries of his own.
Helped by some shady characters from his past, Duffy discover that while things have changed in the years since he was working the area, the streets are still mean and the crooks walk arm in arm with the blues. Full to bursting with sex, violence and dodgy dealings, Duffy is a gripping and entertaining crime novel with a distinctly different and entirely lovable anti-hero. Read by Rupert Degas.
©1980 Dan Kavanagh (P)2014 Orion Publishing Group
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"An unusual mix of thriller and comic novel."
Yes. See below.
Yes, see below.
“”If we were in America, I’d go to a private detective.’ ‘You could try Duffy. … He might do a job, if he was free.’”
This is the first Duffy novel by Dan Kavanagh (Julian Barnes). In the light of the attention given to Cormoran Strike, the private detective in “The Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling), readers should try Duffy. Kavanagh’s unusual mix of thriller and comic novel is of a different order from Rowling’s derivative excursion into detective fiction. Although very different in tone and setting, “Duffy” bears comparison with John Banville’s moonlighting as Benjamin Black for his Quirke novels.“Duffy” is set in a very seedy and intermittently dangerous Soho in the 1970s. While Duffy is honourable to a degree, he is far from Raymond Chandler’s “knight”, making his way down Los Angeles’ “mean streets”. Duffy deliberates one evening whether to go to a singles bar for a woman or a man, and although his visits to massage parlours and peep-shows advance his investigation into the increasingly threatening blackmail of a client, he’d probably be there anyway. Crooked policemen; an extremely nasty villain; and a dodgy client to whom Duffy gives the advice pay-up or find someone to knock-off the blackmailer … these are very mean streets. Where “The Cuckoo’s Calling” is over-long and quite contrived in its characterisation, especially of the private detective, “Duffy” is very tight, getting through its plot with considerable economy while still conveying the mostly internal locations quite memorably and building up great tension. I wonder why Julian Barnes keeps his distance from Dan Kavanagh.
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