A new detective on the rise
Author: Ashley Edward Miller și Zack Stentz
Publisher: Penguin Books
Colin Fischer is the new detective in town. Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, Monk or Colombo are merely his predecessors. Beside the detective side, these characters have another thing in common: the inability (or a low developed ability, at least) to interact normally with the people around them. Like them, Colin Fischer has his own way of dealing with the surrounding world: he retracts, he observes, he calculates in mathematical manner everything, and then he draws conclusions.
He is not presented as a detective in the first place. You would actually think this is a teenager’s book, like those books with adolescents and their school behavior. Yet, the book offers this surprise: the character is slowly showing signs of being a detective prodigy. Unlike the previously mentioned characters, he is first a school boy, then a person that suffers from “Asperger’s syndrome” (a ”neurological condition related to autism”) and only at the end his detective skills will come out.
The first two things that he is, put Colin in a very delicate position towards everything around him: his colleagues that play tricks on him and torture him in the cruel way that the college boys know how, his teachers that are dazzled by his behavior but eventually get to respect him on knowledge basis, his parents that love him in an almost unnatural way, putting aside any parent-like deception that could be considered a logical reaction that someone with an Asperger’s syndrome affected kid would be likely to manifest. While the last one, his detective skills, get him into a whole lot of trouble, but get him out of it too.
The instruments he uses are instruments that any detective would use: a pen – a green one – and a notebook. But these are also the instruments that any kid would use to write down the things that happened during the day: they are called “journals”. He misses the hat or the trench, so the reader will be misled in the beginning. He might even wonder: “Is this a book about a boy that suffers from mental problems related to autism?” Well, the answer is: “Be patient! You have in your hands a very good book that treats different issues in a very detailed and sensitive way.”
Even though Colin Fischer barks like a dog as a reaction to the disturbing phone that starts ringing while he is responding in class at a teacher’s question, even though he reacts quite badly to the color that he doesn’t like – blue, even though he avoids eye contact, when a gun is shot in the cafeteria, he remains cool, he’s not afraid, and he records every detail of the event as accurately as a video camera would. And this is not because he is fond of guns or anything, but because this shooting thing is an event that makes him curious. It’s an enigma that sets him off. He is determined to find out who the gun belongs to and who shot it.
Well, this determination is not like something that a normal kid would experience. Maybe a normal kid would give up. Or maybe he would ask for help from the closest of his friends. Yet, Colin does not give up. And even if he is helped, he doesn’t ask for that help. He gets it because it’s a natural thing that happens. Even more, he will attempt to solve the mystery in order to help the one person that a normal kid would be glad to see gone: his most feared enemy. And he does that only based on the fact that his calculations have brought him to the conclusion that he is not guilty.
The character Colin Fischer is a very well outlined one: after the first few pages the reader will feel that he (or she) actually knows the kid. In that “OK, OK, I got it!” manner. His relationship with his parents is profiled in the best way possible on only one page: when he comes home all wet, after being sunk in the toilet by a senior, and his father asks for ”!!the story Colin thinks the ”I got wet” explanation would cover it, as his father’s expectations were strictly related to the water dripping off his shirt and not to the event that caused that dripping. The same thing with his colleagues, that are either laughing because of the way he is, or picking on him. And also the relation with the teachers: the gym teacher explains him how to visualize the throwing of the basketball, and Colin throws a perfect three point. He then asks the teacher: ”Mr. Turrentine, are you God?” “No, Fischer. I am a gym teacher. I work for a living”, the gym teacher replies”!!.
There is an amazing achievement in the book: even though Colin Fischer’s character is so well constructed, the others are viewed through Colin’s eyes, so they are outlined in a different way. They are simply points in his existence, some brighter then the others, each having own trajectory that Colin cannot modify, and everyone being accepted for exactly what it is – a point that the main character has to interact to. Only when that point modifies something in his own intimate world – that doesn’t have to be modified at all – only then will Colin take a stand in his own way.
The whole detective story keeps the same line as any detective story would. The character keeps gathering clues throughout the entire book, and then, at the end, an abrupt presentation explains every mystery that occurred before. Colin does just that: he observes, he evaluates, he takes some decisions – unexplained to the reader at the time – and then, in the end, at the climax of the epic story, the mystery is broken piece by piece and explained thoroughly.
The authors, Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, met online while discussing Star Trek, a passion they both share. They are the writers of the scripts for X-Men: First Class and Thor. They plan, among other things, to write a remake of Starship Troopers. With the success of these movies – and of some one hundred or so hours of other television shows – I personally think it would actually be a great idea to get this book on the big screen, as well. I think it would make a great movie.
The live style, the rich details that help create a very distinguished character, will make this book a pleasant reading experience.
Do you like the mystery unraveling stories but got a bit bored of the old Sherlock Holmes stuff? Well, Colin Fischer is the book for you.