Today, a guest post by Maine Colonial – a terrific writer and recovering lawyer who enjoys reading traditional mysteries, police procedurals, espionage thrillers and Eurocrime.

This is the third in the Teddy Ruzak series, set in Knoxville, Tennessee.  The series begins as lovable loser Teddy is setting himself up as a private investigator, a dream he had for years as a security guard and that has been made possible by a small inheritance.

Teddy is slow and bumbling but, a little like Columbo, he just keeps talking to people and gnawing away at a problem until he figures things out.  He has some problems following rules.  He never manages to take and pass the state PI exam and is pursued nonstop by state enforcement officer Walter Hinton.  He adopts a shelter dog even though his apartment building has a no-pets policy, and goes through elaborate ruses to trick the building’s manager, Whittaker, into thinking he’s not breaking the rules.

When confronted by his nemeses, and even his long-suffering secretary, Felicia, Teddy’s habit is to misdirect with non sequiturs, shaggy dog stories, bizarre questions and 10-dollar vocabulary words.  His conversations with suspects and clients are similarly goofy and circuitous.  Many pages in the books are nothing but hilariously dizzying dialogue with a “who’s on first” quality.

It would be a mistake, though, to think these books are just fluff.  Yancey knows how to craft an intricate and compelling plot and create thoroughly realistic characters, from his main players down to the bit parts.

In THE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE DETECTIVE PLAYS THE FOOL, Teddy has renamed his agency the Research and Analysis Group and claims to Walter Hinton that he is in compliance with the state’s ruling barring him from working as a PI.  Luckily, Hinton doesn’t know that Teddy has a new client, Katrina Bates, who wants him to tail her husband and document his infidelity.

Teddy phones Katrina’s husband to tell him that she is onto him and to urge him to come clean and give up the affair.  Katrina is outraged at Teddy’s behavior and fires him.  Nevertheless, a day or so later she calls him to meet him for lunch.  When she doesn’t show up, Teddy investigates her disappearance, despite the complete lack of interest or concern by her husband, family and police.

Richard Yancey is also the author of a terrific and most unusual memoir called CONFESSIONS OF A TAX COLLECTOR:  ONE MAN’S TOUR OF DUTY INSIDE THE IRS.  This is a funny, poignant and fascinating look at Yancey’s 12 years as an IRS revenue agent, aka tax collector.  It may be hard to imagine that a book about an IRS employee could be remotely attractive, but this is way beyond interesting.

Yancey is also the author of the excellent Alfred Kropp children’s fiction series.

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  1. Elizabeth Masten says:

    I had not heard of Yancey before this wonderful review and now I am looking forward to reading some of his books. Some of these authors that fly below the radar are really putting out some gems. Thanks for bringing him to our attention.

  2. Beth says:

    As you say, so many really good authors escape our attention until someone brings them into the light. I really love having guest reviewers post on the blog.

    If anyone would like to offer a review to be posted, please contact me at

  3. Pingback: AUTHORS S – Y | MURDER by TYPE

  4. If you like this book, I did, don’t forget the rest of the series: (All at Amazon)
    –The Highly Effective Detective
    –The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line: A Mystery
    –The Highly Effective Detective Duo

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