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Literature / Fletch

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A series of detective novels written by Gregory Mcdonald, drawing on his experience as a journalist for the Boston Globe. The books were noted for their humor and dialogue focus.

Irwin Maurice Fletcher, or Fletch for short, is an Intrepid Reporter whose keen detective skills are only matched by his sardonic sense of repartee. Through his personal connections or sheer happenstance, Fletch gets wrapped up in some conspiracy or murder that requires his skills.

  • Fletch (1974): While posing as a junkie to investigate a drug ring on the beach for an article, Fletch gets a curious offer from a rich aviation executive. Alan Stanwyk, who claims to be dying of cancer despite not looking like it, wants Fletch to kill him in a way that looks like a bungled robbery so that his family can cash in on his life insurance. Though he has no intention to carry out the deed, Fletch decides to look deeper into the matter.
  • Confess, Fletch (1976): Rich after the events of the first book, Fletch heads to Boston to investigate the theft of his fiance's priceless art collection, but finds himself framed for murder when the naked corpse of a woman is found in his apartment. Helped only by the fact that the eccentric police detective assigned to the case believes him, Fletch must prove his innocence.
  • Fletch's Fortune (1978): Enjoying a quiet life in Italy, Fletch suddenly gets blackmailed by two CIA agents over his offshore accounts in exchange for him wiring the annual journalist convention. Before he even arrives there, the president of the American Journalism Alliance is stabbed to death – and as it turns out, many of the attendants had very good reasons to want to kill him.
  • Fletch and the Widow Bradley (1981): A Prequel set an unspecified amount of time before the first installment. After being called out for attributing quotes in an article to a man who's been dead for years, Fletch is fired from the News Tribune and becomes a laughing stock. Convinced there's more to it than a simple mistake, Fletch sets out to clear his name.
  • Fletch's Moxie (1982): Back to the present, Fletch goes to visit his old flame Moxie, only to witness the producer of the movie she's signed on being stabbed live during an interview. Moxie turns out to be the prime suspect in the case, both due to her proximity to the man during the murder and her unknowing involvement in his tangled finances.
  • Fletch and the Man Who (1983): Hired by an old war buddy to be the press secretary for a presidential candidate, Fletch has to deal with the headaches of electoral politics and a trail of dead women following the campaign.
  • Carioca Fletch (1984): An Interquel set between the original book and Confess, Fletch. Fletch is comfortably settled in Brazil, when he is not dodging the widow of Alan Stanwyk that is, but his stays gets upended when an elderly widow believes him to be the reincarnation of her long-dead husband. Unfortunately for him, so does the person who killed him.
  • Fletch Won (1985): Another prequel and chronologically the first installment. A new hire at the News Tribune, Fletch's tude makes him a pain for his editor, who pawns him a puff piece about a donation to an art museum. Things get interesting when the lawyer he was supposed to interview is found shot in the paper's parking lot, and Fletch has to juggle his investigation into the man's death, a request to find out how an escort service got a photo on the front page of the paper, and the preparation for his upcoming wedding.
  • Fletch Too (1986): Following the events of Fletch Won, Fletch receives a letter from his missing father along with plane tickets to Kenya. Once there, Fletch witness a murder and meets a supposed friend of his father who has an agenda of his own.
  • Son of Fletch (1993): Some times after the events of Fletch and the Man Who, Fletch is living the quiet farm life in Tennessee. When a group of convicts escape from a high-security prison, one of the escapees, Jack Fioni, comes to the farm and introduces himself as the son Fletch never knew he had. Deeply curious, Fletch goes along with Jack's plan to help a South African Neo-Nazi and his posse escape capture-but some things just don't add up about Jack's story...
  • Fletch Reflected (1994)

The series spawned a 4-books Spin-Off series detailing the adventures of Confess, Fletch's Detective Xavier Flynn and two movies starring Chevy Chase as Fletch, the first based on the original book and the second an original story. After multiple false starts, a third movie based on Confess, Fletch was released in 2022, starring Jon Hamm as Fletch.

Tropes featured in this series include:

  • Anti-Hero: Fletch in the first book is portrayed as a disturbed and quite ruthless individual, though not entirely without conscience or human feeling. He sleeps with a teenage prostitute and eventually buries her OD'ed corpse to maintain his junkie cover, he has abrasive exchanges with the News Tribune assistant editor, and the book ends with him leaving Stanwyk to die a gory, pointless death while he grabs his getaway money. Though the rest of the series keep Fletch as a snarky fellow not above bending the rules, his dark qualities are much less emphasized.
  • Book Ends: The first and final chapters of Fletch, Too are a short paragraph reading "What astounded Fletch was that the letter written to him was signed Fletch". In both cases, Fletch is astounded to find his Disappeared Dad isn't as dead as he thought.
  • Breakout Character: Confess, Fletch's Xavier Flynn, the unflappably polite Irish detective who once fought in the Hitler's youth (it's complicated), wound up being so popular as to get his own book series.
  • Call-Forward: In Fletch Won, Fletch is asked about the Stanwyks' family table decor preferences, to which he responds "Me? I don't even know what Stanwyks are." He eventually gets to know them very well during the events of the original book.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: An In-Universe instance drives the plot of Fletch and the Widow Bradley. A logistics executive fakes his death in Switzerland with the complicity of his wife so he can undergo gender reassignment surgery and reintroduces herself as her previously-unseen sister. However, she still reflexively signed her corporate memo under her old initials, leading to Fletch's predicament.
  • Denser and Wackier: Fletch Won was written to be easier to adapt as a movie adaptation and thus it and the following books hews more closely to the 1985 film. There is more action setpieces and pratfalls (including such plot points as Fletch skinny-dipping into the pool of the murder victim's wife), the breezy dialogue becomes a World of Snark, Seinfeldian Conversation abound (most prominently talks about the newest fashion craze, jodhpurs) and is, overall, more overtly comedic.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: The inciting incident in Confess, Fletch is our hero finding the naked corpse of a woman in his home. She's clothed in the film.
  • Identical Stranger:
    • In Carioca Fletch, Fletch just so happens to be a perfect match for the long dead folk hero of a favella, leading to the residents believing he is a reincarnation who can tell them about who killed him. That Fletch appears to suffer from a "curse" described to him early in the novel and at one point dreams of various Brazilian myths he otherwise has no knowledge of suggest there may be something to it.
    • In Fletch Won, Fletch finds he look identical to a convenience store robber who's been acting in the area for months, giving the crooked cops a convenient excuse to lock him up.
  • Immediate Sequel: Fletch Won takes over the course of a week as Fletch juggles his investigations and the preparations for his wedding on Saturday. Fletch, Too starts on that very Saturday, as Fletch gets the fateful letter on his (very rushed) wedding.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In Carioca Fletch, a member of a tap dancer troupe Fletch is acquainted with dies of a heart attack while having sex with a prostistute and the surviving members, not wanting to publicize the cause of his death (he's the son of a prominent admiral), hatch a wacky plot to drive his corpse to a boat and have it released so that it appears he died by boat accident, having to ferry his corpse past road patrols and the dock's workers. It works.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: The first and final chapters of Fletch, Too reads simply "What astounded Fletch was that the letter written to him was signed Fletch".
  • Pragmatic Hero: Though on the side of the public interest, Fletch has no compulsions about lying, manipulating or doing any number of underhanded things to get what he needs. Fletch and the Widow Bradley, for instance, has him sneak into the home of the titular widow and grab some of the ashes of her husband so he can send them to a lab for analysis.
  • Punny Headlines: At the beginning of Fletch Won, Fletch gets chewed out by Frank Jaffe for, among other things, writing a headline reading "Company sits on its assets".
  • Running Gagged: Starting with Confess, Fletch, Fletch claims to be writing a biography of author Egard Arthur Tharp as his excuse foinr doing whatever he's doing. Son Of Fletch reveals he eventually did go and write the damn book.
  • Stylistic Suck: Fletch's Moxie centers around the filming of a crappy B-movie titled Midsummer Night's Dream. The plot (about a woman in a small town being raped by the sheriff and her Forbidden Romance with a black man, who gets lynched by the town's resident when her pregnancy comes to light) is pure Glurge and Fletch dismisses the character as unbelievable and thinly-written.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Fletch is established to have done a tour in Vietnam before the events of the first book and one source of conflict between him and his editors is that he adamantly refuses to attend a ceremony awarding him a Brown Star for his service there. Fletch and The Man Who fills in additional details regarding this part of his life.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In the first book, Fletch is furious at his paper's insistence to contact the police about his junkie cover, as he believes (correctly) that the police is in on the drug racket on the beach.
  • Who's on First?: In Fletch's Fortune, Fletch gives his name as "I.M. Fletcher", leading to a man telling him off for introducing himself so pompously.