L.J. Sellers (Guest Blogger)
CONTEST WINNER: PENNY T.
We’ve all had fantasies of living someone else’s life for a day or a week. And it’s safe to assume most of us would want to step into the shoes of someone rich, famous, talented, adventurous, and/or beautiful. But what if your dream day was limited to a character in a crime novel? Someone posted a similar question on the Dorothy L list recently, and it made me think about the various lifestyles of fictional investigators. There are many intriguing options: Jack Reacher with just his toothbrush and no responsibilities, Stephanie Plum with her choice of good-looking lovers, or Lucas Davenport with his pile of money and high-ranking detective job.
But after a little thought, I quickly chose Archy, the investigator (of sorts) in the McNally series (McNally’s Caper, McNally’s secret…), written by Lawrence Sanders—my all time favorite writer—then continued by Vincent Lardo. Why Archy McNally? No person, real or fictionalized, seems to enjoy himself as much. In fact, he’s totally spoiled, a condition I’ve never experienced, but would love to, if only for an imaginary day.
Archy lives with his parents on a five-acre estate in South Florida, quite near the ocean where he swims every day. They have a live in-cook who makes exquisite meals, often on demand. A typical breakfast is “duck pate on toasted bagel.” Archy drives a red Mazda Miata and works for his father’s law firm as an investigator. But his assignments are infrequent and he spends his days playing tennis, having lunch at the local Pelican Club (of which he’s part owner), drinking vodka tonics, and sleeping with beautiful members of the opposite sex, who often give him expensive gifts such as gold lighters and cashmere pullovers.
He worries about nothing (including calories or liver disease) and has almost no responsibilities. Here’s a typical Archy sentiment: “As I headed up the coast in my sparky chariot, I felt such a sense of joie de vivre that I broke into song.” Archy describes himself as “an amiable, sunnily tempered chap” who “sees no need to concern myself with disasters that may never happen.”
Archy occasionally takes on an inquiry, but it’s nothing like my poor homicide detective who, during a case, works round the clock and lives on coffee and pizza while he stares at phone records and digs through trashcans. In Archy’s world, an investigation involves a little snooping around (more fun), attending rich people’s parties, eating exquisite meals that end with “warm New Orleans pralines and chilled Krug,” and getting involved with suspects, i.e., “sexual romps where realization exceeds expectation.” Archibald McNally truly lives a life of carefree pleasure and self-indulgence, and I think I could handle that for a day.
What about you? If you could live the life of a character in a crime novel for just one day, who would it be and why? Everyone who comments will be entered into a random drawing to win a free copy of Secrets to Die For, the just-released second installment in the Detective Wade Jackson series. (My single-father, sober, worried character doesn’t know what he’s missing.)
L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist, editor, novelist, and occasional standup comic based in Eugene, Oregon. She is the author of the highly praised mystery/suspense novel, The Sex Club, and her second Detective Jackson story, Secrets to Die For, has just been released.