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The Highly Effective Detective

(The Highly Effective Detective #1)

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  540 ratings  ·  118 reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of Confessions of a Tax Collector and The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp comes The Highly Effective Detective--a hilarious and thrilling series debut featuring a lovable but bumbling private investigator.
 Meet Teddy Ruzak, the oversized, over-his-head P.I. whose first case begins with the hit-and-run killing of a gaggle of gos
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 2006)
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Showing 1-30
3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  540 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
My beloved sister-in-law has been berating me for buying books (even when I buy them used at the library: $1 for hardcovers, 50¢ for paperbacks), so the last time I got a book catalog I picked out a couple books I thought I would like to read but then instead of sending in an order went down to the library to see if the library had them on the shelves or at least some book(s) by the sane author ... which is how I came across this volume, which turns out to be the first in a series. I had never r ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the first in a series of cozy mysteries by Rick Yancey. His sleuth is Teddy Ruzak. When Teddy's mother dies and leaves him some money, he quits his job as a night security officer to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a detective. Although he names his agency The Highly Effective Detective agency, he is the exact opposite -- unqualified and naive with little life experiences. He bumbles his way through this case to an "effective" close, providing the reader with a book filled with humor ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Liked the premise and felt like it was a fun story. However, the language was a little strong (R rated) for my taste.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: teen-mystery
Despite picking up a copy of this book in the Teen Mystery section, I wouldn't call it a teen book. Sure, you could argue that the lead character has the maturity of a 19 year old, but he is in fact 33. There is a big difference between a 19 year old and a 33 year old who'd been working the same security guard job (he flunked out of the Police Academy), having no relationships, social or otherwise, and still living with his mom. The result is a man-child with an emphasis on the CHILD. Our main c ...more
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I'm happy that I read this book, but I found that my impression of it was more uneven than most. While some passages seemed good and "tight", others either left "long" or just tedious. That's not a very charitable thing to say, but overall I liked it enough to consider reading the next book in the series.

Why? Well, for two reasons:

a) has the author pulled the next book together better (yes, I know it's not his first novel) and
b) having waded through a lot of the "who are our leading characters a
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Humorous mystery about a sweet lunkhead and failed police academy cadet, Teddy, who decides to become a real detective by opening up shop as a private detective. He rents office space above a dry cleaners and recruits smart aleck waitress, Felicia, who looks "just like Lauren Bacall" as his secretary/girl Friday and presto(!), he's a detective. His first case: finding The Gosling Killer (he ran over six baby ducks with his SUV.)

Three things saved this series from being a run of the mill Stephani
Jul 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Well, at the beginning I had my doubts. But as it went on it kept getting better. As any good mystery should, by the end the plot had taken many surprising twists and turns that weren't predictable (at least not to me, anyway). This qualifies quite nicely for something that's quick reading, light, and entertaining. If the series continues I'll read more of them.
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book while reading it. The characters are unique and well drawn, and the mystery is just quirky enough to hold my attention. To great degree, the narrative mystery is not presented as the primary purpose of the story, but rather more as an engaging background against which the character drama of the primary character and his engagements with the world plays. This works for me as Teddy Ruzak and his Gal Friday, Felicia, are by far the most interesting aspects of the tale, particula ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
The Highly Effective Detective was not quite what I expected. I picked it up at a library sale because I love mysteries (both suspenseful and cozy), and I loved the ducks on the cover and the premise that a guy opened a detective agency and started tracking down a gosling killer. How delightfully quirky! I figured it would be a fluffy cozy-type mystery. Not quite.

I thought the main character, Teddy Ruzak was an interesting character, but not one I particularly related to. Or maybe I did relate t
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
So enjoyable to read. In real life, the main character probably would be someone I avoid. He sounds so tiresome. But the author has described him and his thinking process in such a way that makes you love him and feel sorry for him. I really like the way it was written and how the story untold. It was quite hard to put down once you started. I feel pleased with the ending too.
Lynn Neilson
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an interesting mystery with a Forrest Gump-like main character who spouts philosophies and wisdoms, and although he has little self confidence, manages to solve a double murder. There is some self-deprecating humor that brings a few smiles. The pace is not speedy, but the book is nonetheless ultimately compelling and, as noted, interesting.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
In Chapter One, I found Teddy Ruzak to be totally sympathetic and likable. Teddy loved Sherlock Holmes. I loved Sherlock Holmes. Teddy wanted to be just like Encyclopedia Brown. I wanted to be just like Encyclopedia Brown. (I had to look at the back of the book, too.) Teddy read the dictionary. I read the dictionary!

But then Teddy got older, but not any more mature, and I'm afraid he made me regress to teenage eye-rolling, and resort to such contemptuous expressions as "How stoopid are you?" an
funny and a good read! WInner in my books!
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
What a surprising book! I chose this one for my "A to Z" challenge, needing an author name that began with a Y. Turns out it was a very enjoyable choice.

Ted Ruzak is not the smartest or most handsome PI you'll ever meet. He talks WAY to much and "makes sense without making sense". In other words, he is entirely lovable. He can't figure out his assistant, Felicia, but she reads him like a book - making for a very interesting work relationship.

While this book is entertaining, it isn't quite in the
Aug 22, 2014 added it
Rick Yancey's The Highly Effective Detective begins with a man alone in the world, abandoned by his father, and his sick mother dying of cancer. All (Teddy Ruzak) has left is a dream that he has pursued since childhood: to become a great detective. Fifteen years of eagerly waiting for an opportunity to leave his job as a night-watchmen tragedy must occur in order for his life to lift off the ground. Leaving his first job (and his only job) Teddy Ruzak must dive into the realm of uncertainty into ...more
Stephanie Livingston Thornton
This book is just plain funny! The main character, Teddy Ruzak, has led a fairly uninteresting life as a security guard/night watchman for several years when his mother dies and leaves him enough money that he can focus on his dream job of being a private investigator. This book is the tale of his first case.

Teddy is a wordsmith who uses lots of words to say something that could easily be said with fewer words. He also uses words that are fairly uncommon due to his childhood pastime of reading
Oct 03, 2014 rated it liked it
#1 in the Teddy Ruzak series. The series shows great promise and I'm willing to attribute the rough spots in this entry to the author finding his voice. Blurbs have compared this to Donald Westlake and his "Burglar" series - The debut isn't even close but there is promise and room to grow.

Teddy Ruzak series - With the money Teddy Ruzak inherits from his mother, the overweight man decides to start his own business. Failing to become a policeman, he's been a security guard for years; now is the ti
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
This mystery was different enough that it caught my attention and there was something I liked about it right from the beginning. I did get impatient with the main character's patience with his secretary and I resented the way he let her get away with talking down to him. But it was satisfactory in the end, so I guess I can overlook that defect. I am not good at figuring out who done it, so saying I was left guessing until the end isn't saying much. I was not sure who the audience was (I bought t ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a really hard book to rate. I gave it two stars only because they don't have 1/2. So really I rated it 2 1/2 stars. Now down to the nitty gritty, first I loved the story and could not figure out who did it. Great twists. Ending was also great. Now for the not so great, I very much disliked Felicia. Yes she had family issues but come on, she is just out right a mean person and I don't like her at all! Unfortunately I will read the second book and will have to deal with her again. Second, ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Teddy who is a like a cuddly bear with a head stuffed with filler wants to be a detective. One of the first thing he does is hire a woman who he actually believes is a friend. No sooner than she walks into his office she becomes a free spender who decorates his office in the style of a New York lawyer and buys herself a new wardrobe as a perk.

By the time he gets going on his first case which is a true wild goose chase I began to realize that it was not funny to laugh at the antics of a poor del
This was fun in a way I didn't expect it to be. The detective is an overweight, lonely, earnest man who didn't think before quitting his job the moment he came into some money and opening a detective agency called "THE DIC". But there's an upshot - it's that he knows he was hasty. And despite him thinking of himself as a dimwit, he's actually not. He does solve two murders, and his working theories are sound and rationally thought out. After reading a ton of cozies where the main characters call ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
The first of The Highly Effective Detective series. Teddy Ruzak is an underachieving, lazy schmuck. The book follows Teddy through solving his first case, an internal debate as to whether or not he has the moral character required to apply for a private investigators license in the state of Tennessee and the resulting evolution of character. While I really enjoyed the book, I felt the writing and characters were not entirely consistent. Parts of Teddy's development were more like flipping a swit ...more
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was okay. It is the first in a series of four and I will keep it in mind if I need a "Y" for a challenge, but otherwise I don't think I would continue with it. The characters were all over the place, not very well developed, not very nice to one another, not very believable. I was particularly shocked by the total lack of concern for (view spoiler) ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I was alerted to this book (now a short series) by a friend, and I'm glad I was. I'm also glad she warned me that it starts slowly. It does, and if I hadn't been warned, I might have given up. This first person narrator, not-quite a private eye, seems too much of a doofus to be believed; but gradually you warm to him, and gradually his wild stream-of-consciousness method of interacting with people begins to bear fruit: clues are generated, and crimes are solved. Near the end, one of the other ch ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
2006 1st in Teddy Ruzak series

Fulfilling his childhood dream, Teddy Ruzak opens a detective agency with money inherited from his mother. Ruzak hilariously narrates this story, full of entertaining characters, in a self-deprecating yet insightful way. Although he doesn’t have a license to be in business, he jumps right into his first case of finding the motorist who callously ran over six goslings crossing the road. The goslings, however, lead to a murder mystery that he plods through before solv
Nov 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I randomly grabbed this over thanksgiving and thought it started pretty flimsily and insubstantial, but really started warming up to Teddy as the book went on, leading to a pretty obvious reveal that was still effective, and the author did a good job of changing my perception of Teddy (and everyone's perception of Teddy) as the book progressed. Not sure the Teddy in the final few chapters bears even a passing resemblance to how he was portrayed early on, but I guess that's why we have dramatic p ...more
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Good story. Writing not polished. I do believe the central character will develop into a more intriguing form in future books in the series. Teddy Ruzak has promise. An overweight, unfulfilled, single male, security guard, realizes his lifelong dream when he receives and inheritance, and opens a detective agency. Teddy feels like a fool, and acts like a fool, yet he's no way stupid. His first case begins with the hit and run killing of 'a gaggle of goslings' and develops into a complex murder my ...more
K.C. Shaw
Nov 27, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, not-owned
A remarkably slow-moving, low-action book. I found it amusing and clever at first, but the lack of action and the main character's endless internal monologues got old fast. The only reason I'm keeping this on my shelves instead of dumping it at the used book store is because it's set in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. There's no other reason to read this book--certainly not for the mystery, which is lame. The author doesn't even let us follow along with the clues. Despite the fact that most ...more
Jul 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, humour
The cover quotes Booklist, saying, "Funny the way Donald E. Westlake's novels are funny . . ." I'd have to say both yes and no to that assessment. Teddy Ruzak is more of a detective manqee His speech runs to long near-monologues that confuse the reader as much as they do his conversational partners. This is not necessarily a strength. While these speeches are frequently funny, or at least include some quite humorous bits and pieces, they also eventually exhausted me as a reader. My brain started ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Highly Effective Detective 1 1 Aug 01, 2013 03:16PM  
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aka Richard Yancey

Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.

Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Ext

Other books in the series

The Highly Effective Detective (4 books)
  • The Highly Effective Detective Goes to the Dogs (The Highly Effective Detective, #2)
  • The Highly Effective Detective Plays the Fool (The Highly Effective Detective, #3)
  • The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line (The Highly Effective Detective, #4)