The Boy Detective Fails

Written By: Joe Meno

Published By: Punk Planet Books

Reviewed by Frank L. Ocasio


            In the wide, expansive collection of all stories, there are those that are both terribly defeating and somehow, at the same time, unbelievably uplifting. Terrible and somehow still breath-takingly beautiful. The Boy Detective Fails is just such a novel. In the same vein of Fight Club (the movie more so than the book), it barely does anything but make you want to cry and yet, it manages to leave you smiling far wider than you were before it came along. 

            Mind you, this is despite the premiseóreally: We follow Billy Argo, the former boy detective who retired after tragedy struck his life. We join him for his reassertion into reality at the age of 30, after heís already spent at least a decade in a drug induced coma in a mental institution. With tell-tale bald spots on his head, shaved for shock treatment, Billy comes to New York to take a profoundly depressing wig salesman position, meet new friends in a pair of intelligentóand equally depressingósiblings, and solve incredibly surrealist mysteries. And for sake of providing an example: one of these mysteries picks up when Billyís coworker shows him that part of his leg has vanished and that heís worried more will follow and that heís worried. To which Billy replies, naturally, that he probably should be. 

            But thatís not all. Meno has paid particular attention to his theme and has managed to meet the challenge perfectly. The book itself is an incredibly playful mystery that you have to piece together on your own; below many pages is a secret code that you have to decipher with a decoder ring furnished on the back flap of the book. That feel of child-like wonder is only helped along by the simple approach Meno took for his narration and the amazing imagery he created, my favorite of which is the way that when Billy turns on the light for his bedroom, no light turns on, but snow starts falling from the ceiling.

            All of these details come together for an ending that Iíd call nothing less than essential to humanity. Well, at the very least, essential to each humanís personal experience and development. Do not miss The Boy Detective Fails. I promise that it will be one of the most original and wondrous reads youíll have had in quite some time.

One More Thing Before I Quit: Iíll be completely honest; there was a part just after the epilogue that made me cry. I will not tell you what it is, and I hope that when you find it, you donít think of me and this review, and you probably wonít. But maybe youíll remember afterward and smile because maybe youíll understand and youíll realize youíre not alone.


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at flocasio@g-pop-net.