‘My Darling Detective’ by Howard Norman – A Light Noir


‘My Darling Detective’ by Howard Norman  (2017) – 243 pages


‘My Darling Detective’ is a cozy playful noir detective story.

“So in this book, I simply tried to create an atmosphere with some menace and some humor in equal measure.” – Howard Norman

This is a fun little novel that pays homage both to classic noir and to lending libraries.

It takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Martha, the girlfriend of Jake Rigolet, is a detective for the Halifax Regional Police until her pregnancy forces her to quit.  On the police force, Martha has two partners who play “bad cop and worse cop”. Once a week after Jake and Martha eat their dinners, they relax in bed to listen to their favorite show, Detective Levy Detects.

“In tonight’s episode,” the announcer said, “Detective Frederik Levy and the love of his life and partner in sleuthing, Leah Diamond, have been called in to investigate the murder of Fanwell Birch, who worked the newspaper stand in the lobby of the Hotel Devonshire.”

The love life of Jake and Nora shadows that of these radio detectives.

Jake’s mother Nora has worked at the Halifax Free Library for many years and in fact gave birth to Jake right inside the library.  Now Nora is in a rest home where Martha originally came to interrogate her but now comes for friendly visits.

I won’t go into the details of the detective case which is at the center of ‘My Darling Detective’ other than to say it involves Jake’s father and provides many twists and turns and scary moments along the way.  All is written in a delicious tongue-in-cheek style.  It definitely has the feel of an old-time detective fiction.

Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, the mystery at the heart of the novel dates back to 1945. There is a subplot involving a famous World War II photograph by Robert Capa, ‘Death on a Leipzig Balcony’.  In the opening scene of the novel Nora Rigolet walks up the aisle of a hotel dining room where that photograph is being auctioned and flings an open jar of black ink at it. Luckily the photograph is protected by glass so no harm is done. By the end, we discover why Nora reacts so intensely toward this photograph.

‘My Darling Detective’ is light playful fun, perfect for listening to rather than reading.  Bronson Pinchot, former star of ‘Perfect Strangers’, does a nice job of reading it aloud capturing that hard-boiled but humorous noir mood.


Grade :  B 


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