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Literature / Vasquez Private Eye

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Evil is like death; the truth lies beyond what the mortal eye can see, and only those who have been consumed by it can know what dreadful secrets hide under its disguise.
— Zachary Venshlin

Vasquez Private Eye is a novel published in 2014 by Edward Bardes. It features a police officer named Johnson Vasquez and his four childhood friends, Alex Andrews, Richard Ralston, and sisters Shannon and Zelda Thomson.


The story is told from Johnson's point of view, with the exception of four chapters involving accounts from his friends, and revolves around solving a series of botched court cases and murders being committed in the city, while also dealing with the characters' Dark and Troubled Past.

What questions are being posed, and what kind of answers are in store for them?

Vasquez Private Eye provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Alex Andrews and Richard Ralston.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Downplayed. Venshlin sets a subway train on fire before fighting Johnson in the smoke-filled station.
  • Big Bad: Zachary Venshlin / Martha Vasquez
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shannon's drink mix is used as part of the Big Bad's plan.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The burglar who broke into Alex's store on his first night as Chide was hired by Martha as a hitman.
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  • Dark and Troubled Past: All the central characters were sculpted in some way by the aftermath of a plane crash in Kansas City.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Johnson shows off Martha's head to his friends and colleagues after escaping the burning subway tunnel.
  • Foreshadowing: Clues to the killer's identity:
    • Venshlin is stated to have walked with a slight limp.
    • Shannon and Zelda take on a masculine change after drinking the drinks made from Shannon's drink mix.
    • The fourth note appeared in the cooler after Martha showed up.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Johnson's Aunt Bethany flees to Paris after Johnson reveals her sister to be the mastermind of the murders committed in the book.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Martha secretly took up smoking after the Kansas City crash. She also smokes a cigarette during Johnson's summation of the case.
  • He Knows Too Much: Or at least was the greatest detective in the city and wouldn't take too long to solve the case.
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  • Human Head on the Wall: The novel ends with Johnson mounting Martha's head on his bedroom wall.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The murder weapon in the death of William's father was an airbag in a microwave.
    • Satchel is stabbed in the throat with an icicle.
  • Leap Day: Richard's birthday is continuously mentioned to take place on February 29th.
  • Literal Metaphor: Lampshaded repeatedly when the group searches the late Gary McCrery's barn for needles in haystacks.
  • Red Right Hand: Martha lost her left kneecap in the Kansas City crash, and walks with a limp; Venshlin is mentioned to walk as if "there were sycamore seeds in his left shoe".
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Anagram: Zachary Jacques Tolono Venshlin is an anagram of Johnson Charlie Clayton Vasquez.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Martha subdued Johnson by drugging his silverware with dissolved sleeping pills.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Most of the curse words in the story are swapped out with words from the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Two characters put these in action:
    • Death Seeker William York killed his father and almost killed Patrick as a last-ditch attempt to resolve his financial situation after being fired by Firebird Airlines. He hoped that if the plan failed, he would receive the death penalty for his crime. The gambit backfired because his new lawyer insisted he fight the case, and was acquitted in spite of his guilt.
    • Martha also seemed to be a Death Seeker out to kill the lawyers and judge who got Firebird acquitted for their role in the crash of Flight 934, as well as her only surviving son for his actions that night. At least get as far as she could before being killed or killing herself.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: When trying to rob Alex's store failed due to a drink mix made by Shannon, Martha sought out the recipe and used it herself to become a lawyer and get truly guilty defendants acquitted of the crimes they committed.
  • Year X: The year the main plot takes place is left vague, but there are clues as to what year it takes place in.

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