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John Francis Cuddy Books In Order

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Publication Order of John Francis Cuddy Books

Blunt Darts (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Staked Goat / The Tethered Goat (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
So Like Sleep (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Swan Dive (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Yesterday's News (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Right to Die (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shallow Graves (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
Foursome (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Act of God (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Rescue (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
Invasion of Privacy (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Only Good Lawyer (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Spiral (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of John Francis Cuddy Collections

The Concise Cuddy (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cuddy -- Plus One (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon

John Francis Cuddy is the lead character of the John Francis Cuddy series of detective/crime mystery novels by American author Jeremiah Healey. John Cuddy the protagonist in the series is a man who takes up the cases that fall through the cracks in the judicial system. As a private investigator based in Boston, he can be violent when required to be, honest, and moral. Before he decided to set up as a private investigator, he had served in the military as an MP. The debut novel in the series was the 1984 published “Blunt Darts” that became very successful within a few weeks of publication. Since the first novel was such a success, Healey would turn prolific publishing a title a year between 1984 and 1999 when he published thirteen novels culminating in “Spiral” in 1999. In addition to the 13 novels of the series, he also wrote two short story collections all of which made the finals for a Shamus Award. His second novel “The Staked Goat” was a winner of the Shamus Award in 1986. Given his legal background, the author had the advantage of having a very good understanding of cases that did not make it into the legal system and how they were later resolved. Using this knowledge, he wrote the debut about the search for the child of a judge that was seemingly reluctant to have him found. He also wrote about the right to assisted suicide in the 1991 published “Right to Die” and the competency of a hypnotized person as a courtroom witness in the 1987 published title “So Like Sleep”.

John Francis Cuddy is a private detective that fits Raymond Chandler’s mold of private detective Philip Marlowe. Cuddy walks the streets of Boston with courage, without being mean, afraid, or tarnished, in a world full of corruption, greed, and crime. Cuddy was born in a predominantly Irish neighborhood of Boston, and went to Holy Cross College where he was educated by the Jesuits. After finishing his college studies, he went to Vietnam to serve as an MP. He came back home to the US only to lose his wife Beth to cancer a few years later, leaving him devastated. He spends a lot of time at Beth’s grave, discussing his moral dilemma and complex cases with her. His strong moral compass drives him to try to find resolutions to cases that have fallen between the cracks of the judicial system. He is the type of detective that would be called hard-boiled given his ambiguous moral questions, his lonely work and life, and his dealings with unsavory characters from the urban back streets of Boston. Nonetheless, he is not your typical hopeless case as even though he can get violent and be beaten up, he has that sense of humor and gentle cynicism that always has him standing tall at the end of it all. Even though he may be bleeding at the end of an ordeal, he is always proud of his achievements.

The John Francis Cuddy novels are novels that while having one protagonist have different themes, making it possible to read each novel as a standalone. The series has won several nominations for a variety of prestigious awards such as the Shamus Award. Francis Cuddy has often been compared and contrasted with Spenser, a character by Robert B Parker, who was a relentless and upbeat character, as compared to the optimistic John Cuddy. Unlike many of the private detectives who have a tough and domineering exterior, the novels have that nuanced feel in the fertile and rich settings of Boston, that allow for empathy and human feelings. Francis Cuddy who drives the story of all the thirteen novels in the series and short stories is a man unafraid to use violence when he has promises to keep. However, what makes the novels so popular is the honorable nature of the lead character’s dealings who even as he has no social life to speak of, is the farthest thing from a sexist you could ever think of. The novels are not all about the detective crime work that Cuddy undertakes as a significant part of the story is about his relationship with his dead wife Beth. In scenes that could be referred to as magical realism, Francis visits his dead wife religiously, and has some deep conversations about his moral quandaries offering insights into his work and struggles. In fact, his wife tells him to stop waiting for the world to be fair and just do his best to accomplish his destiny in the 1999 novel “Spiral”.

“The Staked Goat” opens to Cuddy reminiscing on his days in Vietnam where he had served as a military policeman. Al Sachs who had been one of his best friends with whom he had patrolled the streets of Saigon just called him up to meet for a drink. It has been more than a decade since they served together in Vietnam and Cuddy is now an established private eye in Boston. He wakes up to the loud ringing of his phone to hear an excited Al Sachs on the other side asking if he can find some time for a drink later that evening. After the call, he has feelings of nostalgia when he remembers how Sachs had once said that, were he ever to be captured by the Vietcong, he would mangle his little finger to inform him that he did not die by accident. Al Sachs is a no show for the evening meets and when Cuddy visits his address, he finds it crawling with crime police. The man had been found dead in a nearby park, naked and his little finger mangled. Cuddy now embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his friend, and it is not long before he uncovers a dark web of military conspiracy that stretches back to his days in the Vietnam War.

“So Like Sleep” is an excellent novel about hypnosis in the context of court trials. Cuddy is defending a boy who confessed to a murder and now wants to recant, as it was made under hypnosis. The client is a black student from one of the poorest crime ridden suburbs of Boston who nearly served time in juvenile hall for involvement with a gang, which nearly cost him a place in college. His mother finally managed to convince him to change his ways and he got admission into one of the United States’ most prestigious colleges. Nearly a decade after his brush with the law, he finds himself embroiled in murder and this time his mother cannot get him out. Under hypnosis, he had admitted to killing his girlfriend, and telling the psychiatrist where to find the body and murder weapon. He wakes up to find himself in cuffs and believing he was guilty of the murder. However, Cuddy believes the psychiatrist is not as honest as he wants everybody to think, and risks everything to get the young man off the hook.

Book Series In Order » Characters » John Francis Cuddy

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