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I Am Not a Psychic!: A Novel Hardcover – October 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Actor and comic Belzer, best known for his long-running portrayal of the acerbic detective John Munch on the TV series Homicide and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, fares much better with his second light crime novel featuring himself as the amateur sleuth. Both the plotting and the prose are sharper than in 2008's I Am Not a Cop! and offer promise that future books may be better still. Just before Belzer leaves New York City for Las Vegas to cohost a charity telethon, Paul Venchus, with whom Belzer once worked as a reporter, calls and asks for his help cracking a conspiracy. Venchus claims the suspicious deaths of a Marilyn Monroe–like actress and her congressman lover were actually murders. After Venchus turns up dead himself, possibly from an alcohol overdose, his girlfriend comes to Vegas to implore Belzer to investigate. Despite a deus ex machina, snappy dialogue and solid pacing makes this a success on its own terms. (Oct.)
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About the Author
Richard Belzer plays the acerbic Detective John Munch on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, after first portraying Munch on NBC’s critically acclaimed drama series Homicide: Life on the Street. In fact, Belzer has made television history by portraying Detective Munch in ten different television series, including Law & Order, The Wire, and Arrested Development. A veteran stand-up comic, actor, and talk-show host, he appeared in such films as Fame and Scarface; starred in The Richard Belzer Show on Cinemax, his own HBO special, Another Lone Nut; and The Belzer Connection for the SciFi Channel. Belzer is author of I Am Not A Cop!, UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe, and coauthor of How to Be a Stand-Up Comic. He divides his time between France and New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Added to the mix is the title "character"... a totally boring... self-proclaimed... run of the mill (supposed) psychic... who was Paul's girlfriend and also related to one of the long ago murder cast of characters. With all the possibilities the author has at his disposal such as unlimited real-life names for cameos... and nothing but his imagination to limit his choice of a unique crime subject... this story comes up awful short.
Belz is at it again as a suitably smart-assed self-insert in his own fiction, a character in his tale of conspiracies akin to Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy era, in which an old acquaintance, Paul Venchus, (who used to be a fellow journalist) is killed when he gets a little too close to the truth. Paul's girlfriend, Veronica Holmes, a self-proclaimed psychic, contacts Belz by cellphone and the mystery begins. Hesitant at first, Belzer warms to the need for his investigative skills as the fog surrounding the death of Brigid Burgeon (read: Monroe) ostensibly at the hands of the Kaye (read: Kennedy) clan, when word has it Venchus was on to something big. There's plenty of grist for the conspiracy mill, as you can imagine.
The action intertwines with Belz's need to help an old friend, his comedy mentor and idol, Johnny Leland (think Jerry Lewis here, folks) do a charity telethon. There's a lot more to producing a telethon than you may realize, which brings many other memorable and fully-developed characters into the fray. Belz walks the fine line between investigating a mystery growing deeper every moment, with bodies stacking up precariously, while giving as much help to Leland as he can muster.
There's even a Sal Fabell/Johnny Leland reunion to rival that of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. You'll still enjoy this book, even if you're too young to remember all these historical similarities.
Veronica, the loose cannon who seems glued to Belz's side, undergoes a Pygmalion-like transformation through the course of the crimes, but whether or not psychic abilities come into play, I'll let you decide.
Everything transpires in a credible, action-oriented manner, which will keep you turning pages until the very end. The ending itself will have you asking aloud, "How's Belzer going to get himself out of life-threatening trouble THIS time?" (And whether or not his gorgeous wife, Harlee McBride, will have to "come out there." It's great to see her included in this novel!) It's a thriller of an ending, so don't cheat yourself by sneaking a look at it early on. (Yes, I know you're tempted, but trust me on this one.)
All of this happens by way of the Belzer & Black co-authorship, which is even more seamless and polished this time. Those familiar with Michael Black's writing style will recognize his prose, but so many of the details are pure Belz at his best. I can't say enough good things about this one, because it's even better than their first offering, "I Am Not a Cop."
If there's a conspiracy in your town, you'll undoubtedly want Belzer on your side. In the meantime, I'm crossing my fingers there will be many more collaborations between Belzer & Black - maybe next time they'll set one in Atlantic City.
Perhaps one day Belz will actually get to see one of those MMA bouts he keeps missing.
He gives many examples of poor humor in what I read, with the hero looking down on other stand-up comics from his own egotistical heights. I found none of the characters interesting, likable, anyone I would want to get to know. This may, perhaps is, an accurate portrayal of Las Vegas show biz, but I need at least one character in 27 pages interesting and sympathetic enough that I might want to know them.
I like well written and edited books. This is neither. Several grammatical errors in what I read helped turn me off. But enough, don't read unless you like disliking all the characters in a book.