Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Detective Dave Davecki Takes A Lambeau Leap (Book Review)

Detective Alphonse "Dave" Davecki is back. He's one of the most likable fiction characters in the Twin Ports (I would say "most likable" but I don't want to offend any other Twin Ports characters whom I may be unaware of) and Lambeau Leap is the fifth detective mystery novel by Mike Savage featuring this Superior detective who always gets his... (I will let you finish the book first lest I spoil the ending.)

Mike Savage of Savage Press has the Rocky thing going. He never quits. He never gives up. And he's always entertaining. Like his previous stories, Lambeau Leap follows a pattern: use current headline news to springboard into an imaginary murder mystery (or, in this case, another kind of crime.)

His first Dave Davecki novel, Something in the Water, dealt with those storied headlines about the 55-gallon drums that Honeywell had dropped into Lake Superior half a century ago. It was big news when I first moved to Duluth in the 80's, a first degree unsolved mystery that created quite a flap. Detective Davecki was called in to solve a murder that was interlinked with this real life mystery. In the end he found the body of Jimmy Hoffa. (Just kidding. I can't tell you the real ending.)

Davecki was immediately likeable, and it was relatively easy to ride along with him through subsequent novels like Burn Baby Burn, Lake Effect and Lord of the Rinks.

At this point I'll throw in my Graham Greene comparison. Somewhere along the road of life Greene became one of my favorite authors. His books fell into two categories. First, there's the serious fiction like A Quiet American or The Third Man, both of which became Hollywood films featuring powerful performances by Michael Caine and Orson Welles . The second category Greene called "entertainments." These were not written to win prizes for their literary value. They were written for a reader's enjoyment. And this is what Savage is up to.

Mike Savage
The story this time around involves Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have one of the most illustrious histories in the NFL with famously fanatical blue collar fans. The Cleveland Browns have their "Dawg Pound" where fans in the cheap seats bring dog biscuits to pelt their rivals. At Lambeau its the Green & Gold on display, a somewhat psychotic revelry takes hold when the Packers play in this illustrious arena. How crazy does it get? Thanks to television we have all seen a smattering, but when Davecki is invited to work the stands serving brats, we get the up-too-close-and-personal perspective that you won't find anywhere else.

Packers fans have had plenty to cheer about with the advent of Aaron Rodgers. No doubt this inspired the tag-along resuscitation of the now retired detective. But Davceki can't seem to take his detective lenses off, and is compelled to pay attention to details that others have missed in the midst of this Packer pandemonium.

One of the fun pieces in the story was having Alex Wizbicki show up in the book. I briefly got to know Mr. Wizbicki a few years back and learned that this skinny old Superior man played pro football with the Green Bay Packers in 1950. That was back when helmets had no face masks. Those were some tough fellows back then. I asked him to show me his 3-point stance and this 80+ year old noodle of a man locks down in position ready to lunge on the snap.

A few final comments about the book itself. Lambeau Leap is shorter than Mike Savage's other books. And the manner in which he refers to the two teams was a stumble for me. When we discussed it, he said that he needed to back off inasmuch as the NFL and teams are brands and he did not want to deal with trademark lawyers, or something to that effect. (I wasn't taking notes so this is a loose paraphrase.) Since the game is being played in Lambeau, and the other team is wearing purple, I doubt you'll need to be much of a detective to figure it out.


1 comment:

Michael Savage said...

Thanks, Ed. The review is as entertaining as the book, I'm sure. I'm now a Seattle fan for the duration of the season, despite the "Worst Call Ever".