Duncan Sloan

Created by Bob Truluck

“Seems nobody knocks on my door unless they’ve got trouble. It’s that kind of door.”
Saw Red

DUNCAN SLOAN is an easy-going Orlando, Florida private eye who works when he damn well feels like it, and keeps his stash of pot in a moldy refrigerator. His first appearance, in Street Level (2000), was the winner of the 1999 SMP/PWA Best First PI Novel Contest, and it drew a fair share of enthusiastic reviews. And this Truluck dude? He’s got a ‘tude that won’t quit. Here’s what he says about his own novel:

“Ain’t nothin’ but pulp trash. Read it and weep…It’s more profane than a Friday night poker game, bawdier than crotchless panties, tough as a knuckle, faster than a sucker punch, and for all outward appearances possesses the social conscience of a gonad.”

As for Bob himself, he claims to be ” just a regular guy, living in a regular house, in a regular neighborhood, in the sometimes regular town of Orlando. I’m a wannabe’s Cinderella: no formal education in the discipline, a fluke who stopped reading anyone but dead guys three or four years back except maybe Leonard, and said, I can do this. If you put a dot on Ray Chandler, one on Charlie Willeford, and one on Elmore Leonard, you could find me right smack dab in the middle of that notable triangle. I think.”

Convinced yet? Here’s the blurb Bob wrote for St. Martin’s, that for some reason they passed on:

“Beyond the shadow of the rat there is a part of Orlando that according to the tourist hype doesn’t exist. No long lines, no shuttles to crowded parking lots, no ten-dollar hamburgers. Just go north from imaginationville to where fantasies and addictions walk tough streets and openly feed on one another.

The mother of Ike Pike’s unborn child has faded into this world. He’s not so sure on her name, and he’s never laid eyes on her, but he thinks Duncan Sloan can find her.

A good story and a fat retainer put Sloan on the street in a dead run through flop houses, topless bars, trailer parks, and county landfills. And the competition is stepping all over him.

A blithe posse of relocated smack boys gets thrown in the mix, smell money, and come up with some plans of their own for the expectant mother. The game is on. It’s played at street level. There are no rules.”

Amazingly, I found Street Level to be almost as good as Bob thinks it is… Sloan is a raw and raunchy wiseass, a rock’n’roll gumshoe with a no-tell gun, a non-existent P.I. licence, and an ex-wife constantly on his back, but he knows his way around the seedier parts of Orlando: cheap motels, dive bars, strip joints and trailer parks. Like a lot of folks, I was anxiously awaiting the sequel, which finally arrived in 2003.

Saw Red was greeted with similar acclaim, and it looked like a great new P.I. had joined the shamus game. But so far? Nothin’…

UPDATE

When I last updated this entry, it looked like we’d seen the end of Duncan. Oh, Truluck teased us with a new detective, Joe Ready, who’s well worth checking out. But he was no Duncan. And then, somehow, a third Duncan novel, Flat White (2014), reared its ugly, unheralded head for an instant, and promptly slid back through the cracks.

Duncan Sloan? This bud’s for you, man. Come on back — we need you. And next time let us know you’re coming.

UNDER OATH

  • “…slacker detective Duncan Sloan is…my kind of P.I.”
    — The Montreal Mirror
  • “To actually stay within the (P.I.) genre and do something new and cool… now that’s rare. And that is exactly what, in my opinion, Bob Truluck has managed to do.”
    — Dennis McMillan
  • “Blistering shards of dialogue, nonstop action and one of the neatest slices of sunburned, low-rent Florida since Charles Willeford passed away mark this first novel, winner of the 1999 St. Martin’s/PWA contest… With less irony than Elmore Leonard, and none of the ecological baggage with which Carl Hiaasen sometimes burdens his yarns, Truluck offers a fresh take on hot weather crime.”
    — Publishers Weekly on Street Level
  • Despite the up-to-date contemporary setting, Truluck’s style recalls that of Mickey Spillane in its straight-ahead, get-it-done fashion. The dialogue crackles with staccato sentences, flip wit, the ever-present tension of violence and sex. Readers can expect a nonstop thrill ride with a skilled driver at the wheel, and lots of collateral damage before the checkered flag.”
    — Publishers Weekly on Saw Red
  • “Welcome to Bob Truluck’s shake-and-bake PI novel and this great southern writer’s look at the drug-laced, swamp-hiding, gun-toting, knuckle-dragging, Christianity-loving, perpetually-rotting, bright-red-Ferrari-bandaged open sore that is the contemporary state of Florida. Elmore Leonard on meth–Flat White is not politically correct–it is, however, highly entertaining, and a little frightening.”
    — Kent Harrington on Flat White

NOVELS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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