The second Fletch book (written, not chonronlogically within its universe) sees the former investigative reporter flying into Boston from Italy. He’s there to track fown some stolen paintings for the De Grassi family, whose daughter he claims to be engaged to. He’s also planning on working on a book about a famed American artist.
On arriving at the apartment he’ll be staying in, he’s taken part in an apartment swap for the duration of his stay, he’s stunned to discover a beautiful, and naked girl… dead. Murdered.
Enter Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn, a local police inspector who earns his own spinoff series from McDonald following his appearance in this novel. The Inspector knows Fletch is the prime suspect, but after a number of conversations with him, doesn’t really believe he’s the guilty party.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to keep an eye on Fletch.
And that causes Fletch some issues because he’s got to track down the paintings, discover who the murderer is, and deal with both a fiancee and potential mother-in-law who have arrived to insinuiate themselves into Fletch’s life, romantically, lustfully, and also in the hopes that he knows where the paintings are.
There’s a lot going on here, and McDonald juggles it all wonderfully, and it’s so damned funny. Fletch keeps his cool throughout, focussing on the goal, and his interactions with Flynn are priceless, it’s easy to see why the character got hisown series following his interactions with Irwin Maurice Fletcher.
And, it’s no real surprise, considering the genre, that both the murder and the paintings are all part of the same case, but how it all connects, and why, not to mention who the guilty parties are is a lot of fun to discover.
The dialogue and the banter continues to be top-notch, and often very funny. This time around though, Fletch doesn’t change his identity quite so many times, I think because the police are on to him right from the beginning. He does, however, know how to slip a tail, and get around the police when needed to carry out his own plans.
The story moves fast, takes the situations in unexpected directions, and keeps the reader guessing, even as Fletch puts it all together, and follows his own plan which is only hinted at throughout the piece, and pays off brilliantly in the climax.
I had a great time with this one, and this is the novel that is apparently serving as the basis for the new Fletch film starring Jon Hamm. But while I’m waiting for that, there are a still a number of Fletch novels for me to enjoy, next time it’s 1978’s Fletch’s Fortune.