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The Last Detective Alive Paperback – May 11, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Kennydale Books; First edition (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982273622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982273623
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Gray on June 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Frank Burly is a timely character; he's back for his annual appearance, and once again struggling with time. You might find other books out there discussing what happens when physics encounters consciousness, but John Swartzwelder's newest comic masterpiece is the first to reveal what happens when physics encounters unconsciousness, e.g. Frank Burly, "The Last Detective Alive." If you're a Swartzwelder fan, you know that Frank has gotten mixed up with time before, like in "Earth Vs. Everybody" and "The Time Machine Did It," but this new adventure is more tasteful. This time Frank's preference for day-old donuts leads to the invention of donut holes, (kind of like worm holes in the so-called "real world," but with powdered sugar and flavored fillings). Frank literally stumbles into what could happen if the wrong types figure out to travel through time while simultaneously discovering the dangers of second hand snuff. After Edward "Blinky" Blinkman steals Frank's identity, Frank discovers that if you don't "...have any valid form of identification at all, like me, the only thing you could do was vote." While chasing "Blinky," Frank learns what has happened to all those old electronic gadgets and rotary-dial phones that are so "last century." And what do you think might happen if Frank met the founding fathers? Would he find out the truth about the Boston Tea Party? And if he confesses to being a witch, is he? And what if he met Charles Darwin? Would Darwin's next book really be about the Origin of Baseball? Perhaps Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku need to read up on Frank Burly's latest adventure so they can get their stories straight on time. It's either like a wave, a fabric, a river or a donut hole, but with Frank Burly leading the way, a trip though it is never boring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric L. Wozniak on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In The Last Detective Alive, John Swartzwelder's back with another Frank Burly adventure, but you're probably already aware of that. In this episode, Burly travels through time causing chaos wherever he treads. For veteran Swartzwelder readers, you might think this plot sound a lot like The Time Machine Did It, and you'd be right. Swartzwelder is somewhat rehashing the idea he briefly used at the end of The Time Machine Did It, but here he extends the joke for 130 or so pages. And you know what? It works. What's most interesting about The Last Detective Alive is the fact that Swartzwelder is making a lot of social commentary this time around. In that sense, it reminded me a lot of Double Wonderful. But the commentary isn't overly intrusive, nor does it ever really take a firm stance on anything. Rather, Swartzwelder seems to take an issue and point out its absurdity.
The big question is: Is the book funny? Shame on you for asking. Yes, it's hilarious. I was constantly laughing and rereading passages for friends throughout the book. The only negative comment I have is that it reads like Swartzwelder didn't really have a plan for the book. I frequently imagined Swartzwelder typing at his computer and then asking himself "Ok, what now?" That being said, it's still funny. This isn't the kind of book that asks you to suspend your disbelief. You're taken along for a ride that doesn't make sense, and it doesn't particularly matter. It's fun for all the right Swartzweldian reasons.
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Format: Paperback
I've noticed a trend in John Swartzwelder's extremely farcical novels: they can be real funny and have interesting storylines that include some well executed mystery elements, but the ending is real dumb either because of the events that take place or because the plot loses focus or both. That's when the story's quality of humor plummets, and it can make some feel disappointed in having read the book. Unfortunately his last book, "The Last Detective Alive," is a good example of this. In this book, the slow-witted detective Frank Burly is chasing after a criminal named Edward Blinkman, also known as Blinky, and has been trying to capture him for quite some time now. At one point Burly comes real close to capturing Blinky when he suddenly disappears in front of Burly's eyes. Some time afterward Burly begins to notice all sorts of people in the streets randomly disappearing and eventually discovers that the town is filled these vortexes that send people back in time. He ends up using these to search for Blinky, and the two end up causing a lot of trouble in the various time periods they visit while searching and hiding from each other.

For the most part I thought this was a fun and entertaining novel. There were a few brief scenes here and there that seemed too stupid to be funny, but overall the Swartzwelder's humor was pretty consistent in this book until the end. As I mentioned earlier, the story becomes real dumb toward the end and it isn't very funny. I think anyone who's enjoyed Swartzwelder's other books will also enjoy this one, but anyone else who reads it might be disappointed. They might like it at first, but they'll be disappointed in how the story ends.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Mckeon on November 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It feels almost treacherous to give a bad review for a Swartzwelder penned Frank Burly book, especially as I never wrote reviews for the earlier ones I enjoyed so very much. But seasoned Burly fans will know that Swartzwelder has been devoting less effort into bothering to create base narratives for Burly's adventures over the recent offerings.

We all love the chaos that Burly creates, and those of us who like surreal comedy enjoy the flights of fancy. But you have to have something of a grounding at least. More recently, and certainly with this book, Swartzwelder just plunges right into chaos from the start. And when it's all chaotic nonsense, not merely a flight from reality, it just gets grating. It feels like he has lost interest in writing them.

Swartzwelder could write wonderful comedy about paint drying, so why he feels the need to totally go nuts with the plot from the get go here is puzzling. It's got to the point where I probably won't bother buying the next one, and that is such a huge fall in estimation from the nearly peerless comedy he has produced in some earlier Burly books that it's a shame to me.
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