I, Ira Retru Grade, was born with a question in my mouth – ‘What the f*** am I doin’ out here?’
This is the opening line, albeit slightly edited as it’s above the fold (sorry IR, this is a family blog) from the first in a new trilogy of comic detective novels told in the first person by Jewish Irish shamus, Ira Retru Grade. If the detective’s punning moniker makes you think this is going to be a Jasper Fforde clone, fear not – this is a wholly distinctive and much more ribald and scatological creation, a sort of Joycean detective story where the author’s love of language comes through loud and clear on every page. Definitely aimed at mature readers (i.e. the ‘F bomb’ gets dropped on the first page and then things really get spicy), this is currently available exclusively as an e-book and can be downloaded on phones, computers, Kindles and the like. Here comes the blurb:
“I Retru Grade” is a pseudonym. His series is viewed as a comic work, the humour wacky, risqué and surrealistic – in cinematic terms, more Polanski/Mel Brooks than Lubitsch/Wilder perhaps. Language is used creatively – there are some neologisms, rare words, Yiddish and foreign language expressions and individual peculiarities of speech. The three stories feature the same Jewish-Irish wisecracking yarn-spinning shamus and two or three other individuals. The background and character of the private eye and of his Bohemian late mother are built up over the three stories, which are set in the City of Fex, a fictitious mid-European metropolis in the equally fictitious country of Fexacia. This city is viewed as a European melting pot equivalent to New York. The time is indeterminate.
In the interests of full disclosure, I admit to not only knowing the writer who ‘edits’ the series but also to liking the man a great deal as he is a real Mensch, through and through like a stick of Brighton rock. But don’t let that imagine that I have let my friendship overrule my brain and parked my critical faculties elsewhere because the book is a delicious read. Bursting with humour and intelligence, this is a real tonic, especially if you’re in the mood for something saltier, more pungent and altogether funnier than the norm. if you’re interested in a PI novel that has as much to do with Anthony Burgess’s ‘Nasdat’ argot from A Clockwork Orange as the hardboiled rodomontade of Raymond Chandler, then look no farther.
The next two volumes in the series, due to be published shortly, are Punschi Coins a Spin and Rogue Moyle. If you want to find out more about Grade’s adventures, view the homepage at www.iretrugrade.co.uk, follow the author on Twitter or download the kindle edition here. You’ll thank me if you do and kick yourself if you don’t – really …