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    THE NAKED DETECTIVE by Laurence Shamus

    Villard Books, 2000

    Pete Armstrong became a private detective as a tax dodge--to be able to claim a home office. He never expects, and doesn't intend to detect anything. When a woman visits him, claims to be a long-lost man, and is then murdered, Armstrong becomes involved despite his fear of commitment.

    As Armstrong investigates, he bungles his way to a number of facts--none of which make sense to him--and into (and out of) the arms of two women. He is unwilling to commit himself totally to solving the murder, yet equally unable to let the crime drop. As a result, Armstrong prevaricates, hedges, and generally makes a mess of things for himself and for those around him.

    THE NAKED DETECTIVE is an almost perfect rendition of the Joseph Cambell's The Hero's Journey. The unwilling hero is called to adventure (by the visit of the woman/man). He refuses, yet the refusal is not allowed to stand. He is eventually forced to confront the task, gains allies, a wise man sponsor, and finally confronts the greatest evil--his own fear of failure. Only through this trial is he able to solve the crime and, at the same time, put his own life in order.

    Laurence Shames writes convincingly of Key West and the characters that make it home. Indeed, the city becomes a major character in its own right.

    Two Stars

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