Conrad Metcalf

Created by Johnathan Lethem

“The subject was as easy to spot as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket.”
 Raymond Chandler

“Tell him next time he wants to talk to me, don’t send a marsupial.”
Conrad offers some thugs some advice on etiquette

Hard-boiled private “inquisitor” CONRAD METCALF made his debut in 1995’s Gun, With Occasional Music, a wide-open sci-fi spoof/parody/tribute to the private eye genre, where gun-toting, well-dressed kangaroos do indeed figure into the action. Conrad’s a stubborn, cynical 21st century gumshoe. It’s a pretty wonky future we’re talking about here, with genetic upgrades prowling the streets (one local mobster employs kangaroos as muscle) and everyone toting “karma cards” (cops have the right to deduct demerit points).

Newsweek loved the book, calling it “a dazzling debut”, “bitterly funny hard-boiled sci-fi”, a brilliant cross between Raymond Chandler and Philip K. Dick, the latter of whom they slagged as “…Chandler’s dark twin, a man who couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper sack.”

Lethem has since blessed us with another bizarre, but decidely more earthbound private eye, Lionel Essrog, in the acclaimed Motherless Brooklyn (1999). And his short story,  “The One About The Green Detective,” about a private eye tracking down the source of a dirty joke is worth looking for, as well.

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Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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