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The boy detective fails
Joe Meno
Adult Fiction MENO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Playing such mysteries as "The Case of the Brown Bunny" against the mysteries of mortality and mankind's capacity for evil, the latest from Meno (Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir) presents former child sleuth Billy Argo at 30, having just finished a 10-year stint in a mental hospital, where he was confined after his teenage sister Caroline's suicide. Unhappy, painfully shy and doped up on antianxiety drugs, Billy arrives in New York City and is admitted to a psych halfway house. Haunted by the mystery of his sister's death and feeling that a lapse in his sleuthing may be to blame, Billy is determined to find out the reason for her suicide and to punish those responsible. He soon finds allies in two bright and unpopular children who live across the street, and clues to relevant past cases from lifelong arch-enemy Professor Von Golum (who happens to live across the hall). Not all the plot strands pan out, and the effect is more impressionistic than narrative (various codes strewn throughout have their own digressive pleasures). But the story of Billy's search for truth, love and redemption is surprising and absorbing. Swaddled in melancholy and gentle humor, it builds in power as the clues pile up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In their youth, Billy Argo, his kid sister Caroline, and their friend Fenton solved a series of puzzling crimes with only a cheap detective kit and their imaginations. After Billy goes to college to study criminology, Caroline commits suicide and guilt-ridden Billy attempts it, ending up heavily sedated in a mental hospital. Ten years later, he connects with two other outcast, nerdy sorts to help solve the mysteries going on in their lives and in that of a kleptomaniac widow who is as fragile and traumatized as he is. The one mystery he can't solve is Caroline's death. This is postmodern fiction with a head and a heart, addressing such depressing issues as suicide, death, loneliness, failure, anomie, and guilt with compassion, humor, and even whimsy. Meno poses the existential question, "Is it more frightening to accept our lives as they are than it is to entertain a fantasy of hope?" and leads one to believe that hope may not be a fantasy after all. Meno's best work yet; highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. Lib., Chico (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Billy Argo
Age: 30
Former child sleuth; spent ten-years in a mental hospital; sister committed suicide; takes drugs for his anxiety; admitted to a halfway house; determined to find out the truth behind his sister's death.

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