Life hasnt been easy for Eugene Huge Smalls.
Sure, his IQ is off the charts, but that doesnt help much when youre growing up in the 1980s in a dreary New Jersey town where your bad reputation precedes you, the public school systems written you off as a lost cause, and even your own family seems out to get you. But its not all bad. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett have taught Huge everything he needs to know about being a hard-boiled detective... and hes just been hired to solve his first case.
What he doesnt realize is that his search for the truth will change everything for him.
It was one of those lurid August days, all haze and steam, the sun hidden and stewing like a shameful lust. I dropped the kickstand, locked the Cruiser to the no parking sign, and wiped the glaze of sweat off my face and neck. Thrash was at my side (I'd doubled him along), and we shared a quiet look before heading in.
As we stepped through the glass front doors, the chill from the air-conditioning slapped me like I'd mouthed off. But that was good. It gave me a jolt, woke me up. There wasn't anyone at the front desk, so we hung a left and tiptoed down the pale gray corridor, sticking close to the wall. The Oakshade Retirement Home bragged about cleanliness in its brochures, and to back it up they made sure every inch of the place always reeked of rubbing alcohol and used rubber gloves. Some of the janitors said that if you stayed there long enough, the smell alone could make you sick, or even kill you. Not me, though. I loved that goddamn smell.
We slipped past a few cocked and ...
Fuerst’s small-time detective and his whodunit mystery delivered me straight to readers' heaven... Huge's narrative voice swings seamlessly from snappy wiseguy cant to philosophical musings, pre-teen naïveté and savvy smarts without losing the essence of the boy's character... An unlikely combo of pulp PI-wit plus 19th Century transcendentalism contributes to Eugene's uber-unique charm.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (1180 words).
BookBrowse chats with James Fuerst
BB: Is Eugene based upon anyone in particular?
JF: I hope no one is terribly disappointed by this, but Eugene "Huge" Smalls isn't based on anyone in particular nor is he a composite of characteristics drawn from real people (at least no real people I know or have known). He is, however, pretty explicitly cut from the cloth of fictional hard-boiled detectives such as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, among others, and he's also a kid, a somewhat precocious, almost-thirteen-year-old kid who has problems, a foul mouth, has experienced his share of difficulties and is trying to figure out not only who vandalized the sign at his grandmother's retirement home, but also...
If you liked Huge, try these:
Train. Car. Plane. Boat. Feet.
He'll get there.
A celebration of nonconformity; a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity--and the thrill and inspiration of first love. Ages 12+
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