Every now and again I find a book that really makes me laugh - and this is one of them. It is dark and twisted, really funny with a quite unexpected ending.
Harvey Mapes (just as good a name as Forrest Gump) is a 26-year-old security guard, a virtual no-hoper who mans the night shift on the gate of an up-market residential estate in LA. The security is superficial as Harvey in unarmed and even his badge is sewn on. Nothing happens on that shift so Harvey reads a lot of second- hand detective stories, watches PI shows on TV and is addicted Spenser, Magnum, and Mannix.
Harvey is overjoyed when one of the residents, Cyril Parkus, asks him to follow his lovely wife Lauren because she is acting strangely. The pay is great and Harvey immediately does his homework by watching a marathon session of "Mannix" to get clues on how to follow someone. Suddenly he feels alive as he has a purpose in life. He shares this with his neighbour Carol, with whom he has a casual sexual relationship. She calls him "Magnum" and is turned on with the thought of Harvey's PI project.
Of course nothing goes as planned and while Harvey makes the most basic mistakes he does find a clue that suggests that Lauren is being blackmailed and Carol helps him to find the name of the blackmailer. Then something terrible happens and Harvey is completely out of his depth - but he plows on and gets into, and out of, even more trouble.
Lee Goldberg has created a lovable and memorable character that you will follow with trepidation, amazement and delight. This is a great little book that pokes fun at the PI genre and gets away with it. Well recommended.