EYE OPENER and the earlier Albert Samson novels - ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION, THE WAY WE DIE NOW, THE ENEMIES WITHIN, THE SILENT SALESMAN, MISSING WOMAN, OUT OF SEASON, CALLED BY A PANTHER
The character, Albert Samson, was in fact born in Los Angeles in 1969. I was visiting my mother - showing off my first child - and my then-wife and I rapidly ran out of the things we could do for free. My mother and my wife liked mysteries, so I decided to write a humorous little story to entertain them.
The story didn't get finished during the visit, but I enjoyed writing it. So when we went back to New York I carried on with it. And gradually it story grew into ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION. Not entirely humorous and not so short.
Now, all these years later, comes EYE OPENER. Samson lost his license to be a private detective at the end of CALLED BY A PANTHER. The loss hit him hard and in ways he hadn't quite expected. He didn't take it well. And he didn't spare those near and dear to him.
But in EYE OPENER the dark years end. Early on, Albert gets his licence back. His life is transformed, reformed. He wants back into fray. He calls in someone to repair his neon sign (consequences there...) He calls former clients. And eventually he calls the guy who took his license away in the first place: his oldest friend, Indianapolis police lieutenant Jerry Miller.
The intervening years have been dark ones for Albert. But he's also realized just how important working as a detective is to him. He doesn't feel complete doing anything else. So that's why he's persevered and, finally, he is back in business.
But now that the cloud has lifted he begins to see that things have been going on with his nearest and dearest that he didn't notice, or appreciate. Why is a neighbor kneeling to his mother? Why is his daughter, Sam, doing nothing for her future. And as for the woman who's been his "woman friend" in all the previous books... Well!
Well indeed. But it's also a time for him to apply himself to getting back to work, getting some clients. First things first: turn on the neon sign that advertises his wares to the passing public. But the sign has suffered in the intervening years too - it's pictured on the cover of the book.
And when he finally does get a case it's working for the defence on a case Jerry Miller cracked. What is that about...?