WelcomeWelcome to my website, the purpose of which is to honor and promote the world of Portland Police Detective Sergeant Matthew Toussaint through my novel, Raggedy Man. This murder mystery tells the story of a powerful family in conflict with itself and with political and social forces opposing it. It explores the lives of a multitude of characters who come under the investigative eye of Toussaint and his young assistant, Detective Missy Owens, as they work to discover who killed Ben Foeller, the younger son of Portland’s premier dynastic family. In addition to telling a compelling detective story, Raggedy Man is a study of the themes of family, friendship, society, and what it means to live the good life. It probes many of the political and ethical concerns facing America today while personalizing these issues in a large, varied, and colorful cast of characters. A central “character” in the novel is the city of Portland itself, which is detailed in all its quirky, diverse magnificence.
As a reader, I sometimes think I should have been born in 1844 rather than 1944. I’ve long favored the big novels of the 19th century—Dickens, Tolstoy, Thackeray, Dostoevsky, Hugo. Maybe it was my training as an English teacher, but I think it goes back further than that. The library at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland, featured a glassed-in side room where all the classics were shelved. Lunch hours found me hunkered back there in my sophomore year, devouring Anna Karenina and Les Miserables. Later, I stumbled across the classic mid-20th century American detective novels and scarfed down the stories of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Hammett’s Sam Spade, and Macdonald’s Lew Archer.
When, upon retirement, I thought about writing my first novel (I was an English teacher, remember?), it seemed natural to combine these genres: the mystery for its potential for a compelling narrative and the fun of playing around with stereotypes, the grand European opus for its prospects for character delineation, social examination, theme exploration, and just plain good writing. This was my goal. Thus was Detective Matt Toussaint born and given homicide assignments in my favorite city, Portland, Oregon.
Raggedy Man is the first in a series I’ve planned out. The writing gods and good health willing, you should soon see, in these pages, announcements of more stories set in The Rose City, more crimes against humanity perpetrated by cold- blooded killers in league with certain political forces masquerading as guardians of the good. What does that mean? I invite you to read the book.