RARA-AVIS: W. Glenn Duncan

From: Bill Crider ( bcrider@houston.rr.com)
Date: 11 Apr 2004

In the 1987-1990 W. Glenn Duncan published 6 private-eye novels about a Dallas p.i. named Rafferty. The books were issued under the Gold Medal imprint. Here are the titles:

Rafferty's Rules Rafferty: Last Seen Alive Rafferty: Wrong Place, Wrong Time Rafferty: Poor Dead Cricket Rafferty: Cannon's Mouth Rafferty: Fatal Sisters

These six books wouldn't have been out of place in the Gold Medal line in the 1950s. They're good, solid p.i. stories (heavy on some of the procedural details that others leave out), and occasionally they're even better than that. The title of the first book refers to the series gimmick, Rafferty being a guy who often quotes his rules for living and/or detective work ("Rule number seven: Every client will lie to you sooner or later.")

The books were obviously influenced by Robert B. Parker's novels about Spenser in both content (the psycho sidekick's name is "Cowboy") and style. Here's an excerpt from the one I picked up to read for Southwest Month, Poor Dead Cricket:

"There were three of them, including Hadley, and they were standing. I was alone and seated.

"But I was me and they were them, so I made the odds about even."

The story is kind of a riff on the Karen Silkwood story, but it has some nice turns. And there's a scene at the Alamo that I liked. Reading the book won't change your life, but it's well-done entertainment, a thoroughly professional job. Nothing wrong with that.

Bill Crider

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