From one of the world's best-selling and most entertaining mystery writers comes a beguiling new novel starring the beloved Inspector Flynn.
Boston police inspector Francis Xavier Flynn is in for a tough day. He has hardly gotten a wink of sleep, due to a marathon bout of detective work. His daughter, Jenny, drags him to a cemetery, where her best friend is nailed to a tree by his ear. Unfortunately, the boy refuses to reveal who did it or why. Next, Flynn hears that his incompetent sidekick, Grover, has convinced the police chief to fire him--again. And then Flynn finds out that a local cop has developed a tendency to pursue and arrest the wrong people--based only on the color of their skin. Dealing with the infuriating, befuddled, and intolerant Boston police force is enough to keep him more than busy, but someone even more powerful than the chief of police wants Flynn to forget everything else and concentrate on discovering who is threatening a certain Harvard professor.
With startling wit, deft characterization, and insightful social commentary, Flynn's World is a masterpiece of mystery and a complete joy to read.
Edgar winner Mcdonald (Fletch, etc.) resurrects minor series character Francis Xavier Flynn, after almost two decades, in a lightweight comic quasi-mystery. "Inspector" Flynn is just the cover identify for a mysterious spy believed dead by most players in the espionage game. Comfortably ensconced in Boston with his poet wife and their five children, Flynn makes almost no effort to sustain his pretense, so that even his slow-witted partner can pick up the anomalies of a man who takes off from work five times to attend his mother's funeral and twice for appendix removal. Flynn pursues three puzzles simultaneously: the nailing to a tree of the ear of his daughter's wrestler boyfriend, a bizarre pattern of harassment directed at an aging but once well-respected Harvard humanities professor, and the odd arrest record of a rising police star who somehow manages to place the bracelets only on minorities and people of color. None of these cases requires Flynn to display any particular brilliance, insight or skills derived from his true career in intelligence work. The insular Flynn moves at his own speed in a way that's hard to take seriously in a post-September 11 world, where the notion of a trained and valuable asset being pampered rather than utilized is jarring. While his commitment to his family makes him sympathetic, Flynn is not well served here by a plot that flirts with serious intellectual issues without developing them.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 12, 2004
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Excerpt from Flynn's World by Gregory Mcdonald
"Da! Da! Wake up!"
In his sleep, Boston Police Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn again was on the ground, a boy asleep against a warm brick wall. The other side of that wall, a city was burning.
"Da! Wake up!"
Cross-legged, his thirteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, sat on the rug beside his bed. Bathed in the light that came through the opened bedroom door, her curly blond hair gleamed; her brilliant blue eyes, as big as saucers, beamed at him.
"Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night?" He felt for Elsbeth. She was not in the bed with him.
"It's not the middle of the night, Da. It's only eight-fifteen."
"Right. I came to bed at six o'clock, didn't I? Having had no sleep at all last night." He had spent Saturday, Saturday night until four-thirty Sunday afternoon discovering the whereabouts of a woman who had taken a car from outside a pharmacy. The car was not hers. In a safety seat in the back of the car was a sixteen-month-old girl. The baby was not hers, either.
Flynn turned on his bedside lamp. He said to Jenny, "The question remains. Why is my bit of fluff awakening me in the middle of my night?"
On the rug between her knees were a hammer, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, a flashlight, a box of gauze, and a bottle of tincture of iodine.
"Need you. Please get dressed and come with me." Without using her hands or arms, she stood up from where she had been sitting cross-legged. "As quick as you possibly ever can."
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"But I'm not dead yet, I don't think."
She picked up the odd collection of things from the floor. "Please hurry. I'll make you a cup of Red Zinger tea while you're getting dressed."
* * *
"Oof!" In the cemetery Flynn fell into a hole in the ground filled with dead leaves. "Oh, my God." He rolled over in the leaves and sat up. "For an instant there, I thought the grave had reached up and pulled me down. And before my fill of formaldehyde, too!"
After climbing over the cemetery's stone wall Flynn had followed his daughter up a hill thick with dead leaves. In the fog the tombstones were not at all visible at a distance; when they did loom into view they appeared bigger than they were. There was full moonlight in the low fog. Jenny had rushed on ahead without using her flashlight.
Holding his hand, Jenny had hurried him down the steps of their house and along the foggy Winthrop sidewalk.
"What's all this about?" Flynn had asked.
"What's a Billy?" Part of Flynn's mind was still in the bed, asleep. "A billy's a goat. Or a nightstick."
"Billy's my friend."
"Oh, I see. Of the male variety?"
"He's a boy."
"How do we know Billy, although I'm not sure I do?"
"He's been to the house." A goodly number of children wandered through Flynn's house, as he had five of his own. He could not swear to have studied them all. He doubted he had ever seen the faces of some--those who seemed to stand permanently facing the inside of the opened refrigerator.
"Is Billy at school with you?"
"He goes to public school."
"Is he in trouble?"
"He's in the cemetery."
"Dead or alive is he?"
"Discomfited," she said with dignity.
"Then he must be alive."
"Sometimes Billy and I meet in the cemetery. You know, to talk things over. Religion. Politics. Billy loves history."
"Why on earth do you meet in the cemetery?"
"It's quiet there."
"I expect it is."
"Sometimes we take the names and dates from the tombstones and imagine what the people, families must have been like when they were alive, you know? Billy and I make up stories about them."
"You meet this boy in the cemetery after dark?"
"Sometimes. Billy's not afraid of things like that. I know some people are."
"Not you, though."
"Besides, Billy's on the wrestling team. He says he's not ready yet for all the guys, you know, to josh him about seeing so much of me. A girl."
"Who'd believe that Billy and I just meet and talk? Mostly..."
"Who indeed? Especially after dark in a cemetery? I admit to a small degree of incredulity myself, Ms. Fluff."
"Here's the place in the wall we climb over."
"Where's the main gate?"
"Oh, that's way down the road. It's locked after dark, anyway."
"Ah, yes." Flynn lifted one tweed leg over the low stone wall. "I've heard people are dyin' to get into this cemetery."
By the time he fell she had disappeared uphill in the fog.
Returning down the hill, Jenny flashed the light on her father sitting on dead leaves. "Why are you sitting there? We're in a hurry."
"I'm resting," he said. "In the last forty-eight hours I've had two hours of sleep, I remind you. If you had asked me at five o'clock this afternoon how I envisioned myself spending the night, I doubt I would have said dashing about after you among tombstones in a fog."
"Oh, yeah." Jenny turned off the flashlight. "Did you find the woman and the baby?"
"I found the woman," Flynn said. "Then I found the baby.