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2 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

The Boy Detective Fails

by

The Boy Detective Fails Cover

 

Staff Pick

The world Joe Meno creates in this book is one full of infinite possibilities. The protagonist, somewhat of a superhero with sleuthing powers, spends his childhood solving mysteries and fighting crime. His adulthood is spent being frightened by the outside world and wishing he could still tap into his previous superpowers. Meno weaves the boy detective's childhood and adulthood into a beautifully written story illustrating the power of the human being to overcome trauma and depression. It's quirky and lovely and touching.
Recommended by Jamie F., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus's Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.

Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford — one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.

Review:

"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The Boy Detective Fails will break your heart, and then pick up the pieces and put you back together again." T Cooper, author of Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes

Review:

"Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic....Wizardly Meno entwines make-believe with emotional authenticity to create a playful yet plangent fairy tale-like satire....Atmospheric, archetypal, and surpassingly sweet..." Booklist

Review:

"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's best work yet; highly recommended..." Library Journal

Review:

"By turns comic and strange....Meno is a talent worth following." School Library Journal

Review:

"Mood is everything here, and Meno...tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible....[T]hrilling, yet almost unbearably sad." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

After a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus's Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.

Synopsis:

Following up the bestseller Hairstyles of the Damned, Meno proves once again why he's the

Synopsis:

Fiction. Joe Meno, the author of HAIRSTYLES OF THE DAMNED and the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, brings to us a heartwarming and heartbreaking novel about Billy Argo, the boy detective. In the twilight of a childhood full of wonder Billy is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover a world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare to be deciphered, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.

Synopsis:

In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimagi-nable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.

Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford--one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.

Kirkus Reviews,June 15, 2006

*STARRED REVIEW*

"What happens when a Hardy Boy grows up?

Mood is everything here, and Meno tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible. Billy Argo, resident boy detective of his small New Jersey burg, seems to have inherited the aura of brains, fearlessness and rigid moral compass that always served the likes of Encyclopedia Brown in such good stead. Billy solves crimes and foils villains without breaking a sweat, aided by younger sister Caroline and heavyset friend Fenton. Their successes are trumpeted in newspaper headlines straight out of kids' adventure books ('Boy Detective Solves Fatal Orphanage Arson'), prompting suspicions that what the author has in mind is a long and ironic riff on children's fiction. But the book takes a dark turn as the years pass. Billy continues solving crimes and generally being a prodigy ('College Now For Boy Detective'), but Caroline slips into depression and ultimately commits suicide. Her brother winds up in an asylum as a result, not re-entering the world until he's 30. This is the point at which Meno, a tricky postmodernist who likes to embed separate story capsules on blank pages and leave nonsense words in the margins, might be expected to throw the curtain back, showing that our hero was crazy all along, no crimes were solved and his whole life was a lie. Instead, the author gives Billy a gallery of rogues to combat and even sends him to investigate the Convocation of Evil at a local hotel ('Featured Panel: To Wear a Mask?'). Meno sets himself a complicated task, marooning his straight-arrow, pulp-fiction protagonist in a world uglier than the Bobbsey Twins ever faced but refusing to go for satire. Instead, the author takes his compulsive investigator at face value. A full-tilt collision of wish-fulfillment and unrequited desires that's thrilling, yet almost unbearably sad."

BOOKLIST, July 2006

*STARRED REVIEW*

Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic, Meno, whose diverse works of fiction include Hairstyles of the Damned (2004) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (2005), is particularly attuned to the intensity of childhood and its lifelong resonance. In this cartoony and dreamlike novel, Billy Argo of Gotham, New Jersey, receives a True-Life Junior Detective Kit for his tenth birthday, and in no time, the gifted boy detective becomes front-page news as he thwarts comic-book villains with the help of his younger sister, Caroline. But Caroline commits suicide,

About the Author

Joe Meno is the author of the books Hairstyles of the Damned, Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir, How the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender as Hellfire. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781933354101
Author:
Meno, Joe
Publisher:
Akashic Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Brothers and sisters
Subject:
Mentally ill
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Mystery-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Punk Planet Books
Publication Date:
20060931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
7.00 x 5.00 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Small Press » Featured Titles
Fiction and Poetry » Small Press » Fiction and Prose

The Boy Detective Fails Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Akashic Books - English 9781933354101 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The world Joe Meno creates in this book is one full of infinite possibilities. The protagonist, somewhat of a superhero with sleuthing powers, spends his childhood solving mysteries and fighting crime. His adulthood is spent being frightened by the outside world and wishing he could still tap into his previous superpowers. Meno weaves the boy detective's childhood and adulthood into a beautifully written story illustrating the power of the human being to overcome trauma and depression. It's quirky and lovely and touching.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The Boy Detective Fails will break your heart, and then pick up the pieces and put you back together again."
"Review" by , "Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic....Wizardly Meno entwines make-believe with emotional authenticity to create a playful yet plangent fairy tale-like satire....Atmospheric, archetypal, and surpassingly sweet..."
"Review" by , "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's best work yet; highly recommended..."
"Review" by , "By turns comic and strange....Meno is a talent worth following."
"Review" by , "Mood is everything here, and Meno...tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible....[T]hrilling, yet almost unbearably sad."
"Synopsis" by , After a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus's Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.
"Synopsis" by ,
Following up the bestseller Hairstyles of the Damned, Meno proves once again why he's the
"Synopsis" by , Fiction. Joe Meno, the author of HAIRSTYLES OF THE DAMNED and the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, brings to us a heartwarming and heartbreaking novel about Billy Argo, the boy detective. In the twilight of a childhood full of wonder Billy is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover a world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare to be deciphered, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.
"Synopsis" by ,

In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimagi-nable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.

Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford--one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.

Kirkus Reviews,June 15, 2006

*STARRED REVIEW*

"What happens when a Hardy Boy grows up?

Mood is everything here, and Meno tunes it like a master, even though such a task initially appears impossible. Billy Argo, resident boy detective of his small New Jersey burg, seems to have inherited the aura of brains, fearlessness and rigid moral compass that always served the likes of Encyclopedia Brown in such good stead. Billy solves crimes and foils villains without breaking a sweat, aided by younger sister Caroline and heavyset friend Fenton. Their successes are trumpeted in newspaper headlines straight out of kids' adventure books ('Boy Detective Solves Fatal Orphanage Arson'), prompting suspicions that what the author has in mind is a long and ironic riff on children's fiction. But the book takes a dark turn as the years pass. Billy continues solving crimes and generally being a prodigy ('College Now For Boy Detective'), but Caroline slips into depression and ultimately commits suicide. Her brother winds up in an asylum as a result, not re-entering the world until he's 30. This is the point at which Meno, a tricky postmodernist who likes to embed separate story capsules on blank pages and leave nonsense words in the margins, might be expected to throw the curtain back, showing that our hero was crazy all along, no crimes were solved and his whole life was a lie. Instead, the author gives Billy a gallery of rogues to combat and even sends him to investigate the Convocation of Evil at a local hotel ('Featured Panel: To Wear a Mask?'). Meno sets himself a complicated task, marooning his straight-arrow, pulp-fiction protagonist in a world uglier than the Bobbsey Twins ever faced but refusing to go for satire. Instead, the author takes his compulsive investigator at face value. A full-tilt collision of wish-fulfillment and unrequited desires that's thrilling, yet almost unbearably sad."

BOOKLIST, July 2006

*STARRED REVIEW*

Comedic, imaginative, empathic, and romantic, Meno, whose diverse works of fiction include Hairstyles of the Damned (2004) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (2005), is particularly attuned to the intensity of childhood and its lifelong resonance. In this cartoony and dreamlike novel, Billy Argo of Gotham, New Jersey, receives a True-Life Junior Detective Kit for his tenth birthday, and in no time, the gifted boy detective becomes front-page news as he thwarts comic-book villains with the help of his younger sister, Caroline. But Caroline commits suicide,

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