This announcement is no April Fool’s joke: next Thursday, 1 April 2021, I’ll be releasing my first-ever book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot, available as a digital eBook (available 1 April) and a physical paperback (available now!).
Inspector Gerard is an absurdist, postmodern, film noir private investigator who always solves his cases—sometimes before he’s even seen the clues!
As a child, I read many short mysteries in the “two-minute mysteries” format, and always found the format irksome, as the solutions often were built on the flimsiest of premises. People would go to prison for being eccentric more than anything else.
To quote from the introduction to my collection:
What always irked me about the [two-minute mystery] format—besides that I was not very good at solving the cases—was the leaps in logic the detective would make to snag his man. For example, there is a famous Encyclopedia Brown story in which our hero catches someone because (to paraphrase) “you can’t take an item out of your right pocket with your left hand.” Naturally, I tried doing just that, and while it was difficult, it wasn’t impossible.
The moment I realized I had had enough was when a detective arrested a man for murder because the gentleman, who claimed to be a native of San Francisco, casually referred to it as “San Fran.” The solution to the case was something along the lines of “the detective knew the man was guilty because no native of San Francisco would ever call it ‘San Fran.’”
With that in mind, around 2001, while I was still a junior in high school, I began writing Inspector Gerard stories. The whole premise—the gimmick, really—was that the solutions would have nothing to do with the evidence presented to the reader. At best, the solution would feature evidence that Gerard knew about, but which had been withheld from the reader.
For example, in the very first—and probably the worst—Gerard story, “Murder in the Circus,” the solution mentions a lost clown shoe, arson markings, and the guilty suspect—none of which are referenced at all in the short setup.
… it’s funnier than it sounds, I promise.
Later, my Gerard stories grew longer and more detailed, and while I fleshed out the character further, he still largely remained amorphous—a faceless, crime-fighting blob onto which the reader can project his or her image of hard-boiled detective.
The artwork for the book comes from past Sunday Doodles, except for the “FLATFOOT Inc.” logo, which graced the “frontispiece” (reproduced in the book) of the first five pen-and-paper Gerard shorts I wrote in high school. My niece, who was around two-and-a-half at the time, scribbled on the paper and I used her scribbles to create images; the confusing, chaotic look seems fitting for a collection of po-mo detective stories:
This short book (about fifty pages in the print edition) is a labor of love. The concept might not be for everyone, but I think you’ll enjoy reading what was funny to a dough high-school and college student in the early 2000s.
And—who knows?—maybe you will figure out the solution before Gerard!