Life and Death > Private Eyes

Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins

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Another section that's never been used, and, since everyone's so quiet, I thought I'd break it in, too, having already posted something over at "Cozies."

In addition to Agatha Christies massive collection of every single Poirot short story, Hercule Poirot's Casebook, I've been reading Rob Kantner's Trouble Is What I Do, his collection of most, though not all, of his short stories about Detroit-based apartment-maintenance-man-cum-PI Ben Perkins.

Unlike the Poirot book, which I've been reading to see if a character I never really cared for would be more palatable if I partook of more modest servings, I've been reading the Perkins collection because I've enjoyed the Perkins novels so much.

And the short stories deliver just as well as the novels do.

Perkins actually started in short stories before breaking into book-length fiction, which, if I ever sell An Obscure Grave, will also true of my guy, Dan Sullivan, so there's a bit of resonance there for me.  A guy who was successful following the same trail I've been taking.

Aside from that, the character is great, and so's Kantner's writing.  There's not quite the sheer style you get from that other Detroit-based op, Loren Estleman's Amos Walker, but Kantner's voice fits his unabashedly blue-collar, beer-drinking handy-man/private eye to a T.

Kantner's won himself a mess of Shamuses from the PWA, so you know he's respected by his brethren (and sistren) in the PI community.  If you haven't made his acquaintance, and you like hard-boiled private eyes, I recommend the Perkins series unreservedly.

Janet Koch:
Hmm. I'm not familiar with Rob Kantner's work at all. And since I'm headed to the library today, I think I'll see if they have any of his Ben Perkins books.

Thanks for the recommendation, Jim!



I hope you're able to find a few.  Problem is, Kantner's novels were all paperback originals, and the last one, Concrete Hero ,came out in the mid-'90's.  Perkins, who started out exclusively in short stories before graduating to book-length, has returned to that form almost exclusively.

But, if your library doesn't have 'em, they might be able to do an interlibrary loan with one that does.  The first novel in the series was The Back-Door Man.

Janet Koch:
My small town library is coming up dry, but they'll look interlibrary. We'll see.

The only drawback I've found to moving to a rural part of Michigan (the county where I live has fewer residents than the company for which my brother works has employees) is the library system. I used to live within a wonderful library co-op -- access to over a million titles with delivery to your local library within two days.

Ah, well.


There's a lesson in this somewhere, I'm afraid.


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