Review: Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective
by David W Barbee
Herein Garrett Cook takes on the realm of the old school detective serial. There was a time when hard-nosed detectives were more common, filling dime novels, comic strips, and magazines. They were stand-up guys living in corrupt and rotten cities, eking out a living by fighting against the endless hordes of crime and perversion. They were gruff, downtrodden, and yet they possessed a specific code of ethics that came from their own sense of justice and heartbreak. Jimmy Plush is that sort of detective… and he happens to be a teddy bear.
The bear known as Jimmy Plush was once a real man named Hatbox, but through his own failures as a man (and some cruel trickery) his body was switched with that of a demented living teddy bear named Jimmy Plush. Now Hatbox is Plush and the original Plush is running around in Hatbox’s body, causing the new Plush all sorts of headaches. This sounds strange, but in Garrett Cook’s insane world, stranger things can happen. There are furries, aliens, robots, and monsters populating this world, but it still retains its classic pulp sensibilities. With all the surreal twists and turns, Jimmy Plush is still a detective, solving cases, righting wrongs, and bantering with his chauffer/sidekick Chang (the Kato to his Green Hornet, only more hilarious).
Cook knows his noir. The structure of “Jimmy Plush, Teddy Bear Detective” is like the old crime serials of yesteryear. Each chapter is another adventure, where you are guaranteed that Plush will get into trouble, encounter his arch-nemesis, shoot someone in the kneecap, and deride Chang for being Chinese. The chapters are consistently entertaining yet each brings about a new level of weirdness. But the most fascinating part is towards the end, where we are informed that much of the old issues of Jimmy Plush’s adventures were lost back in the fifties, and we pick up with a truly great chapter entitled “Jimmy Plush in the Tomb of the Martian Pharoah.” A lot of plot is noticeably missing, but this is on purpose. Plush and a cadre of new sidekicks (as well as the reader) are thrust into a new adventure where the true nature of Plush’s relationship to Hatbox is revealed and all the tragedies of his teddy bear existence are brought full circle. It’s truly great weird noir, and whether you’re a fan of bizarro or the detective stories of the pulp age, Jimmy Plush is both entertaining and faithful. Plus, it’s got a hard-boiled hero who happens to be a teddy bear, and that’s just plain awesome.
David W Barbee is the author of Carnageland and the upcoming novel A Town Called Suckhole. He was kicked out of the Build-A-Bear workshop for trying to make an anatomically correct teddy zebra.