Picture a hotel room in 1948 Singapore. Picture a dispute between black marketer and thief Russell Pearce and an associate--one who opens fire and murders Russell Pearce.
Fast forward to present-day Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Young Doug Pearce, just fired from his steady job in the brewery, has never strayed far from home. But he's always found stories of his Uncle Russ, the family black sheep, fascinating. In comes a letter from an old friend of his dead uncle inviting him up to Toronto. Doug, at loose ends and bored with killing time, accepts. On arrival, he learns that wealthy and glamorous Edna has an agenda: she has assembled enough clues to solve the murder of Russell Pearce and to recover a legendary red diamond he was thought to be smuggling.
Doug, nervous but game, agrees to play detective. How bad can it be to jet off to a glamour spot or two and have an adventure? Whoa! By the end of his first day in Casablanca, Doug knows he's made a mistake. And while he meets people eager to help--a retired museum curator, a beautiful and self-absorbed heiress, and her elderly father, a colleague of Russell Pearce--it becomes clear that someone else is interested in Doug, someone who is also looking for the diamond.
From Morocco to Egypt to Bahrain to Singapore, Doug stumbles on. And whether he's escaping across Cairo rooftops, ducking bullets in a high-speed desert chase, or killing time in a crowded Egyptian jail cell, Doug is sure of one thing: He has no clue what he's doing. But surely he'll think of something as he's propelled full circle back to Singapore and the famed Raffles Hotel. He's definitely not 007...but will he prove to be a zero?
This debut novel is heavy on the fun and light on the suspense. Our young hero, Doug, is a brewery worker from Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Within a few days of each other he finds himself sacked from his dead-end job and on the trail of a fabulous diamond, stolen by his long-dead uncle - the bad sheep of the family - who was murdered many years earlier.
Seeing everything from Doug's wonderfully small town viewpoint we're taken on a whistle-stop tour from Toronto to Singapore, by way of Casablanca, Cairo and Bahrain. Along the way Doug battles off copious quantities of thugs, thieves, crooked policemen and beautiful women in a tale that is always amusing and sometimes reaches laugh out loud levels. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Starred Review. [A] smashingly good, action-packed first novel....Benoit is a rare discovery, and one hopes that he plans to produce more adventure-oriented mysteries with the same skill and energy that propel this excellent debut.
Booklist - Jenny McLarin
Starred Review. Where has Benoit been hiding? With a debut novel this good, it's hard to believe he hasn't published at least 10 previous books.....This captivating debut makes great use of a familiar gambit throwing a naive, untraveled hero into foreign climes and forcing him to hit the ground running. Readers will eagerly await more from the very talented Benoit.
John Robinson author of The Sapphire Sea
A rip-roaring mystery novel that spans the globe. Benoit has written a colorful story of sultry babes, dangerous souks, imperial legacies, greed and murder. From Pottsville to Singaore, every page drips with realism and verve.
Carolyn Hart Relative Danger, Charles Benoit's derring-do debut mystery, is as exhilarating as a magnum of Dom Perignon. Benoit writes with wit, panache and guile. The non-stop pace, exotic locales, exuberant sex and swashbuckling hero combine for splendid entertainment.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by dshepler Suprise! I like mysteries! This book was loaned to me by a friend who promised me that I would be "hooked" on mysteries after reading it. I didn't know that mysteries were so funny or that they could be about regular people. It was my week-end Summer read and was by far... Read More
A compulsive traveler,
occasional scuba diver, and incurable beginning saxophonist, Charles
Benoit has worked in education and advertising. He and his
wife, Rose, currently live in exotic Rochester, New York.
is his first novel.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...