Archie O'Neil's Jeff Pride series has been with me for years. It's a simple story: I picked up a couple of cheap books years ago cause of the cover and promptly buried it in a sea of other books. Flash forward to man years later when Paperback Warrior reviewed the first book in the series and it got my off my duff to see what this series is all about. Go over to Paperback Warrior to read about who Archie O'Neill really was and just generally enjoy a much slicker kind of book review of the first book, which I also read, really dug it and then went out (to the internet) and picked up the rest of the books.
I got to admit the reason why I didn't read the series before is that Jeff Pride is a travel agent. It was hump I couldn't traverse. An action-packed mystery solved by a travel agent? Meh. Chalk it up to my prejudice against people who book tickets, I guess. Anyhoo, Jeff Pride is a lot more then simple trip planner, no he's got a background as an "international private investigator" (where do I apply?) for an outfit called Phoenix Security from which he's semi-retired from. He's also got Cherry. Cherry is one of them dames who only exist in the minds of men. She's hot-stuff, witty and wants Pride's bod. BUT she's also his ward (like Batman and Robin) after her father died and asked Pride to watch after her and Pride isn't that creepy. Cherry is a lot of fun and her and Pride have a nice plutonic Nick and Nora vibe of bickering going on. Pride's or O'Neill's sarcastic nature and wit really propel the books past a lot of the standard fare that used to clutter book racks.
In "The Duplicate Stiff" Pride is in his Paris office and in walks trouble or more accurately trouble (in lady form) bumps into him on the street and causes a stir. She wants Pride to help save her husbands neck with his company after the man he hired had been embezzling. Pride wants nothing to do with but gets dragged into after a murder rap hangs over his head. The plot is nicely standard, like a Taco Bell in a different town. There's a few women for Pride to boink, a seedy/dangerous Private Eye to tangle with, colorful friends, gunfights, car chases and a hardnosed French cop. The Paris scenery and Pride's relationship with Cherry combined with his Pride's glib telling of the facts give the book a nice flare. Jeff Pirde would have been right at home at 60's brand of Gold Medal Paperbacks is Archie O'Neill started writing them sooner. He could have shared drinks with Chet Drum, Constaine and McCall or Shell Scott and fit right in.
Though Shell would have tried to lay the mack on Cherry.