the client

As mentioned in the first lesson, The Falcon’s Malteser blends two styles - detective stories and comedy. It keeps the narrative tropes of the detective story but changes the tone (detective stories are usually dramatic, not funny).

The next detective story trope we meet is The Client—the person who offers our detective agency a case to solve.

Read the next passage.

He was in his midforties, I guessed. It was hard to say with someone that size. A short, dark stranger with brown eyes and a snub nose. He was wearing a three-piece suit, only the pieces all belonged to different suits like he’d gotten dressed in a hurry. His socks didn’t match either. A neat mustache crowned his upper lip and his black hair was slicked back with oil. A spotted bow tie and a flashy gold ring completed the picture. It was a weird picture.

“Do come in, Mr…” my brother began.

“Naples,” the dwarf, who already was in, said. His name might have come out of Italy, but he spoke with a South American accent. “Johnny Naples. You are Tim Diamond?”

“That’s me,” my brother lied. His real name was Herbert Timothy Simple, but he called himself Tim Diamond. He thought it suited his image. “And what can I do for you, Mr. Venice?”

The Client is often:

  • Mysterious—both the detective and the reader don’t know their whole story
  • Secretive—they actively hide their story from view
  • Attractive—this can mean a few things: sometimes they’re someone the detective could fall in love with, sometimes they’re unusual and intriguing, sometimes the detective wants to find out the secrets they’re keeping, sometimes they’re paying very well. Usually it’s a mix of some or all of these and it attracts the detective to the case.
We’ve only just met the client in this passage, but are any of the qualities mentioned above already there?

It’s established in the story that the client has dwarfism. The narrator uses the term ‘dwarf’ to describe the character, some of which you’ll see in the lessons in the series. We believe that the author wanted to make the client unusual—a standard in detective stories. That said, we understand that this kind of characterisation might be hurtful to some, so we have chosen snippets that minimise its use.