Solve My Murder, Please: My Top 5 Fictional Detectives

Hypothetical scenario: you are about to be murdered, no way around it, but before the deed is done, you can select (1) fictional detective to investigate and, hopefully, solve your murder.  It can be a police detective or a private detective (professional or amateur sleuths allowed). So there are the rules of the hypothetical. Who you pickin’? Below are my choices. Feel free to agree or disagree.

  1. Sherlock Holmes. An obvious choice, yes, but here are my reasons. A) His track record for solving cases, even seemingly impossible ones, is impeccable. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever failed to solve a case, so if I’m laying dead on the library floor in some British countryside home, give me the cocaine-using dude from 221 Baker Street. B) He is a sociopath, which in certain professions, namely, medicine, law, and yes, detective work, is a big asset. Again, if I task someone with solving my murder, I do not want them to form an emotional attachment to me or the case. I want them to remain impassive and impartial. I want them to focus all their energy on the evidence. After all, let’s face it: one of the principal drawbacks of being a human is our tendency to allow emotions to cloud judgment. Holmes, he don’t do that. Ever. Probably why his record is spotless.
  2. Miss Marple. Agatha Christie’s detective is an elderly spinster and an amateur gumshoe, all of which, for my money, work to her advantage. Here’s why. First, because she is very old and innocent-looking, she can extract information–from police, from suspects, from witnesses–without encountering too much resistance. And it is a good thing she doesn’t have a husband or partner, who would, in all likelihood, only attempt to talk her out of taking on a dangerous case, such as the murder of Yours Truly. Too, she’s super smart, relentless, and unlike Holmes, she is keenly aware of the psychological motivations for crimes, which is an area that Holmes tends to ignore. Fortunately for Holmes (and his clients), Sherlock is ALWAYS the smartest guy in the room, so psych profiles aren’t needed.
  3. Philip Marlowe.  Yeah, he drinks. And smokes.  And he gets his head turned quite easily by the fairer sex. Those are his negatives. Here are the pluses, which far outweigh the minuses. One, despite his flaws, he has a strong moral compass and a personal code he lives by, no matter what. Bottom line, Marlowe takes your case, he will break his neck to solve it. Period. Two, he is a private detective. Meaning, he isn’t affiliated with the police force, and therefore, not bound by its rigid and, in some case, ludicrous laws, rules, and regulations. Read Chandler’s books featuring Marlowe, and you’ll see the theme of legal versus moral come up often. Three, Marlowe is both intelligent AND streetwise, which separates him from both Holmes and Marple because Marlowe can operate on the meanstreets. . .you know, where murders tend to happen.
  4. Mike Hammer. The reasons he is on my list are thus: he is violent, vengeful, driven, and tougher than a three-dollar steak at Waffle House. Ask yourself this: if you get killed, wouldn’t you want someone to get vengeance on the murderer? Enough said.
  5. C.W. Sughrue. Well, Sughrue (as in “Sugar, you’ll rue the day you met me!) is just my absolute favorite detective. He’s just f-ing cool. A Vietnam Vet. A functional alcoholic. A road warrior. He’s a smartass, but secretly is a romantic. He’s a Man’s Man and a Lady’s Man. Read the first chapter in The Last Good Kiss. If you don’t agree with me that Sughrue is the coolest character ever, then you’re an idiot. private_detective_canada_194212




I’ve been tagged by Paul D. Marks to answer a few questions about my recently published novel Go Go Gato.  Be sure to check out Paul’s Shamus Award-winning book White Heat.  Here’s the link.

I’d like to tag two terrific writers to answer these seven questions: John Mantooth and M. Ruth Myers.  John’s book The Year of the Storm is fantastic and can be found here.

Ruth’s Shamus Award finalist book Don’t Dare a Dame featuring Maggie Sullivan is also excellent. Here’s a link to her website, where all her books can be found.


1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Eli Sharpe is the ex-ballplayer turned private detective featured in my mystery series. Sharpe is fictional, and in many ways, he is an homage to all the classic hard-boiled P.I.s I love.

2) When and where is the story set?

Go Go Gato, the first book in the series, is set in Asheville, North Carolina, during the present day. I chose Asheville for its artsy, Bohemian vibe, and because I lived there for almost six years.  Many famous writers have worked in Asheville—F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe among many others—and I’ve always found it inspirational.  Plus, I attended the University of North Carolina, Asheville in the late 1990s on a tennis scholarship, and they had the good sense to kick me out. . .twice.

3) What should we know about him/her?

Eli Sharpe is an amalgamation, a Frankenstein I cobbled together out of spare parts just lying around the junkyard in my brain.  From television and movies, I constructed my detective from Atlanta Braves games circa mid-1980s, reruns of the Rockford Files, the first season of The Wire, the Fletch movies, and Casablanca.  From hard-boiled PI books, I borrowed elements from Lew Archer, Philip Marlowe, C.W. Sughrue, Archy McNally, and dozens of other fictional detectives. From my own life, I drew on half-remembered conversations between my father and me, fragmented images from my turbulent (but enjoyable) time in Asheville, and god-only-knows what else.

A few other things about Sharpe: he wears a seersucker jacket and red Chuck Taylors; he has five ex fiancées, some of which help him solve cases; he was born in the parking lot of the Red Rocks Amphitheater during a fifty-minute version of the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’’; and he had a “cup of coffee” with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the early 2000s, but he wasn’t there long enough to ask for cream and sugar.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Go Go Gato starts off as a missing person case, so the MacGuffin is locating Almario “Go Go” Gato, a hotshot ballplayer who goes missing in the middle of the season. But as Sharpe investigates and learns more about Gato and his background, Sharpe begins to sympathize and identify with him, especially his struggles with alcohol and drugs. So as Sharpe hunts for Gato, Sharpe is forced to confront his own troubled past.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

Interesting question…reductively speaking, Sharpe’s ultimate goal is to be his own man while helping other people in need. I’m writing the third book in this series right now, and the more I write the more I realize Sharpe is an iconoclast with good people skills. He has a strong moral compass, a sardonic sense of humor, and a way with the fairer sex. A reviewer on Amazon put it this way: “Eli Sharpe…is a sports savvy hip version of Columbo.” I’ll take that!

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

Go Go Gato is available now at Amazon, Barnes &, and Smashwords as well. You can also read more about Eli Sharpe and other books in the works at my website:

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

The second book in the Eli Sharpe series will be published on sometime next summer, I believe.  Tentatively titled Split to Splinters, this novel has Eli Sharpe investigating a Hall of Fame pitcher named Jim Honeycutt and his four daughters, all of whom are vying to snatch a piece of his $20 million fortune.

Here’s where you can get Go Go Gato:



Book Review: READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a geek’s dream come true. You name it, this book’s got it. Video games. Virtual realities. Allusions to sci-fi novels, TV shows, and movies. Intricate world-building. Quest adventures (within adventures, within adventures). And oh yeah, there are boat loads of fun references to 1980s pop culture. Too, the protagonist, a loner named Wade Watts, is a kid you can really root for.

But I’m not a “geek,” which has actually become cool in today’s pop culture. That said, as just an avid reader of good stories, I really enjoyed this book. Fuse the quest for the Holy Grail with the classic Nintendo video game The Legend of Zelda. . .then throw in a bit of the movie Inception set to the music video for “Video Called the Radio Star” and I think you’re in the right head space (imagery wise, anyway) to read and enjoy this book. At every turn, this book defies labels. (Even with all the “geeking out,” there is still a very sweet, boy-meets-girl romantic twist to the narrative).

For me, the biggest compliment I can pay this novel is this: I do not enjoy video games or sci-fi, and I STILL really dug this book. If you’ve got an imagination and a capacity to be entertained, I highly recommend Ready Player One.