Thursday, March 25, 2010




In 1982, author Rick Boyer debuted on the mystery scene with his novel Billingsgate Shoal. The novel was well received and went on to garner an Edgar for Best First Novel.

Boyer’s protagonist, Massachusetts-based dentist/oral surgeon, Charlie ‘Doc’ Adams, is an easy to like character, hardboiled in the Travis McGee tradition as opposed to the Sam Spade, Phillip Marlow manner. Doc is extremely good at staying alive, taking out the black hats chasing him with a cold efficiency somewhat at odds with his mellow demeanor. Still, Boyer knows how to tell a good tale, making hanging out with Doc as he solves mysteries and bops bad guys a lot more pleasant than letting him work on your teeth.


First, a fishing trawler runs aground on the Massachusetts shore. Then a young scuba diver sent to investigate the wreck is found dead in the water. Doc Adams, a friend of the dead diver, sets out through the stormy seas and blood-flecked sands of Cape Cod to plumb a murder he should have prevented. There he uncovers a hidden treasure in illegal arms and is nearly killed in the process. Doc lets the world think he's dead, the better to hunt for the killers of his friend. But if he makes a single mistake, he'll be clam chowder.

While it’s a little hard to get around how or why a dentist keeps getting involved in crimes, the whole series of Doc Adams novels are worth reading. Along with Billingsgate Shoal, my favorite is The Daisy Ducks.


Billingsgate Shoal (1982)

The Penny Ferry (1984)

The Daisy Ducks (1986)

Moscow Metal (1987)

The Whale's Footprints (1988)

Gone to Earth (1990)

Yellow Bird (1991)

Pirate Trade (1994)

The Man Who Whispered (1998)


Bill Crider said...

Great to be reminded of these. I've read three of them and enjoyed them. Also liked the non-series Holmes pastiche, THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA.

Armstrong Sabian said...

Hey awesome! Rick was my fiction writing teacher during my undergraduate days. I took a few classes with him, and attended a couple of parties at his amazing house ("Let me show you the zebra heads and samurai swords room"). I still enjoy seeing his books turn up in strange places.

Evan Lewis said...

Any character named after a character from Gunsmoke deserves a look.

R. T. said...

Great posting! I thought that maybe I was nearly alone in my appreciation for BILLINGSGATE SHOAL, an entertaining thriller that I discovered belatedly several years ago. Boyer's novel deserves to be read by more people.

Kent Morgan said...

Boyer was one of my favourites and I have all his Doc Adams novels. My copy of Billingsgate Shoal was an ex-lib until one day on my first visit to London, I dropped into Murder One on Charing Cross Road. While looking through a bookcase of new, but older, hardcovers, I spotted a first edition covered with dust. This had to be about 15 years after publication, but owner Maxim Jakabowski (sp?) hadn't bounced the price since he had brought it in from the US so I grabbed it at 12 pounds for my collection. I think I read somewhere that Boyer was now teaching in North Carolina.