Bye Bye Bertie, by Rick Dewhurst

Joe LaFlam is insane. A thirty-something self-declared private detective, whose biggest case is the one he gave himself probably more than a decade ago, that of finding a wife. Of course, if the Lord wills, he would follow the call to become an itinerate preacher so that he wouldn’t have to work anymore. Until then, he’s a P.I. by day, reluctant taxi driver by night, and despondently single.

Of course, the single part may change if his latest client-babe can be persuaded into casting her lot with a fruit loop who is constantly running down mental tangents silently voiced with 1940s detective lingo, probably in a Bogart accent. “Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse,” as Boggie would say.

Which may be the reason I wanted to slap Joe a few times while reading Rick Dewhurst’s hilarious account of about one week of his life. Joe is a Christian. I don’t doubt his sincerity; but every time someone asks if he is Joe LaFlam, he replies, “In the flesh,” and that’s how operates throughout the book. “I had the money. I would get the girl.” Unless the conspirators get him first.

Bye Bye Bertie, published in 2005 by Broadman and Holman, is far more comedy than mystery, loaded with Christian living observations which call for a grain of salt. I enjoyed it and look forward to Dewhurst’s next book (which I am told is another LaFlam mystery to be called, “My Fear Lady”). I hope it includes Joe getting a strong kick in the pants—the rod of correction applied with the boot of common sense. (But then, if Joe was more rational, the book may not be as funny.)

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