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The Greer Agency Paperback – March 15, 2010
About the Author
Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of several unpublished novels and hundreds of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, The Calliope Nerve, Literal Translations and other obscure publications. You can find links to his fiction at: http://harristobias.blogspot.com/
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I do wish that when a case is solved he would at a little more detail to the why and how. Also not start the next chapter with the results of the last case but that is of no consequence if you are reading straight through.
Michael Greer is a private eye in the town of Altoona, PA. He keeps an office in back of a strip mall church called, Church of the Rising Son. The pastor Alphonse Brown, or just Pastor Al to his friends, isn't your ordinary run of the mill pastor. He runs AA meetings, weight watcher meetings, group therapy sessions and any other group that allows him to make money on the side. By being involved in these groups, there isn't much that goes on in Altoona that gets past Pastor Al and this usually works to Mike's advantage when it comes to his cases, as in the case of the Sikes murder. Without a nudge from Pastor Al and him telling Mike who he should talk to, an innocent man would have been put to death. Of course the bonus that went along with his finding the truth gave him a push too.
One of the first things I found while reading The Greer Agency was that it was different. Very different. Where most "who-done-its" are made up of one case that you follow from the beginning to the end of the book, The Greer Agency gives you a different case story with each chapter but still allows you to follow what is going on with the star characters - Mike, Susan and Pastor Al. I will admit that the beginning of the 1st story reminded me of a Marlowe, Spade or Wolfe novel due to Mike referring to himself as a "gumshoe" but that likeness lasted for 2 pages and from there on I read stories that would make all three of these master sleuths envious. The characters are believable, the stories are well written and I really found myself wanting to get to the next story to see what trouble Mike would find himself falling into and how he would solve the mystery.
Author: Harris Tobias
Date Published: March 15th 2010
Length: 174 pages
Genre: Crime/Detective fiction
Reviewer: Clayton Bye
The Greer Agency is one man: private detective Mike Greer. He refers to himself as an ordinary guy, just one of the thousands of small businesses who struggle to make a living every day. But maybe he's not so ordinary. When given a chance to elevate the class of clientele he serves, Greer shows a remarkable ability to intuit solutions to all kinds of problems, just by talking to people he knows (Altoona, PA is his home town, after all) or people who have some relation to the case at hand. This terrific opportunity ends with the pudgy, 40 something detective not only elevating his earning power and status, he also gets the girl and gets in shape. Now, if he could just figure out who's trying to kill him...
Harris Tobias has written 15 detective stories about The Greer Agency. These stories are tight, smooth, inventive and a joy to read. No pretension here. No angst. What Tobias has given us is a group of characters we can relate to (even if we sometimes dislike them). And as his aging hero forays into the underbelly of a slowly dying railroad town, if we pay attention--you and I, we might just notice that the line between criminal and the everyday man or woman is awfully slim and often blurred. What I also noticed is how comfortable Mike Greer is in his own skin: he has little difficulty deciding which actions he can live with and what he just can't stomach.
I think The Greer Agency is a damn fine book. Tobias doesn't try to be Spenser or Spade. Nor does he write stories that one would consider literary. No, what Harris Tobias has done with The Greer Agency is show how a professional can entertain while making his craft look so, so easy.
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye
The novel is structured as a series of short stories with each chapter having its own beginning, middle, and end. But the characters also grow and change throughout the book, especially in the last few chapters where Greer's conflict with Altoona PA's drug running crime syndicates is detailed.
Tobias's characters are as light and fun as the plot is, but that doesn't mean they are not full and real. Each voice is unique. I loved getting to know Brother Al and Susan, the waitress, but the minor characters were just as much fun. Tracy, Susan's tattoo covered sister was a particular favorite of mine.
"The Greer Agency" reminded me of a well written TV series, only smarter. It is perfect for readers who want to relax, sit back, and enjoy what they're reading. (Steve Lindahl - Author of Motherless Soul)