Friday, October 17, 2008

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: EMBRACE THE WOLF BY BENJAMIN SCHUTZ!

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: EMBRACE THE WOLF BY BENJAMIN SCHUTZ!

One of the best of the clones to hit the bookshelves in the wake of the success of Robert Parker’s Spenser novels was Washington D.C. private eye Leo Haggerty. Author/psychologist Benjamin Schutz threw together all the Parker/Spenser ingredients, yet through strong writing managed to give his series, starting with 1985’s Embrace the Wolf, it’s own edge.

Leo Haggerty, a jockish/renaissance-type hero obsessed with moral dilemmas, is slightly harder and more cynical than Spencer. Arnie Kendall has the Hawk role as the unstoppable, slightly psychotic, but loyal sidekick. And Samantha Clayton has the insufferable Susan Silverman part as the smart/sexy girlfriend who helps the hero understand himself. Schutz described the relationship between Leo and Arnie as imagining Lew Archer with Mike Hammer for a partner.

Embrace the Wolf has one of the most chilling opening scenes I have ever read as a father receives a phone call with the recording of the voices of his twin daughters – both of whom were kidnapped five years earlier when they were five years old, all efforts to find any trace of them ending in failure. After the brief tape is played of his daughters’ imploring voices, a male voice comes on the phone saying, “I still have them,” and hangs up.

When the father goes off on a rampage to find his daughter, the mother –who has long given up her daughters for dead – hires Haggerty to stop her husband before she loses him as well.

While the six novel in this series owe a debt to Parker/Spenser they are powerful and well written in their own right and eventually come to stand on their own.

NOVELS
Embrace the Wolf (1985)
All the Old Bargains (1985)
A Tax in Blood (1987)
The Things We Do For Love (1989)
A Fistful of Empty (1991)
Mexico Is Forever (1994)

COLLECTIONS
Mary, Mary, Shut the Door (2005).
Includes all three Haggerty short stories, a new story featuring private eyes Sean and Matt Ellis, plus Schutz’s Marlowe pastiche, "The Black-Eyed Blonde"

2 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Paul, x3. Patti

Scott Parker said...

Dang! That opening scene chills me now, in the bright, cool morning. I'm going to have to find this one.