Teddy Hayes

Devil Barnett…Head and Shoulders Above the Crowd

5 mins read

Problem: There are too few good detective novels around.

In a genre where one can encounter interesting and even intriguing characters not to mention red herrings, snappy dialogue and clever plot twists, few can deliver it better than Teddy Hayes with his Harlem based Devil Barnett series.

Too many contemporary detective stories seem to be peopled with broken, overly sensitive, banal and unimaginative put-upon gumshoes, who too often fall into a formulaic pattern; a troubled home life with an aging parent or a fractured personal relationship, an unappreciative boss at work and a pet that the detective has often acquired as a substitute child. Big time boring, right?

Thank God, Devil Barnett has none of these cliched elements.

Not to say Devil Barnett is not a flawed character because he is, mostly because his past life as an ex-CIA assassin has left him with a latent case of PTSD that keeps him constantly moving along the road towards a hoped for and illusive redemption. After many years of professional killing, these days his raison d’etre is attempting to give something of value back to society. Not so easy though, because even though he tries to renounce his past, Devil Barnett sometimes finds that his violent demons seem to have found a home and are often reluctant to leave.

For over 20 years, the author has been constantly developing and honing this world of characters and environments and as a result the novels mirror a realistic historical and political as well as a psychographic and social landscape in which the inhabitants operate.

One such complexity is the fact that although Devil Barnett is a detective, he is also the owner of a jazz club and restaurant that he uses as a base of operation and where many of the book’s characters show up in a social as well as business capacity. Another is his philosophical allegiance to a paramilitary guerilla organization which operate outside the law and fight in their own way sometimes using their own system of street justice to keep the Harlem community safe from the ever growing and ever-present corruption and crime that always threatens.

The style of writing can oscillate between a slow burn to hot action, dealing with topical subjects such as people trafficking, financial fraud, kidnapping, or just plain old everyday murder for profit. The way the author dips in and out of his characters’ minds shows that he has mastered his craft and is a dab hand at seamlessly delivering the goods in an entertaining and commercial way.

Because the stories sizzle and are delivered chapter by chapter in such a dynamic cinematic style, they cry out to be seen rather than just read. In fact, on many occasions when discussing the books, the same question always arises, when is Devil Barnett going to hit the screen?

The ninth novel in the series is “Ghost Park” and is set in a Ghost Theme Park. As usual the characters offer surprises all along the way and deliver something different than one might expect, including Overnight Ghostly Experiences and a psychopathic would-be businessman. Also, in this particular book a poet delivers a spoken word reading called “The Ghost Park Sonata Opus 1: Confession of a Highly Organized Modern Mind”, which Hayes has cleverly made into a music video that readers can check out at this link. https://vimeo.com/649615195

This element is in keeping with Hayes’ innovative approach which for example includes an original music soundtrack for the third book in the series “Wrong As Two Left Shoes” that follows one of the character’s journey through the story.

So, for detective fiction that takes you in another direction, keeps you in suspense and wanting to know what happens next and “Who Dun It” while simultaneously leaving you feeling satisfied like after having a good meal, put Devil Barnett on your reading menu.

Link to the website to see other books: www.teddyhayesproductions.com/books

Written by: Toni Almeida.

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