I am happy to have recently made the acquaintance of bon vivant Archibald McNally. I call him a bon vivant because he fits the definition to a T: a person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle. Archy is a private investigator and head of the Department of Discreet Inquiries for his father's law firm McNally and Son.
Although Archy is in his late 30s, he continues to occupy the third floor suite of his parents' estate in Palm Beach, Florida. His father, Prescott, has adopted an Old World Persona - in dress, mannerisms, and speech. His telephone books are bound in leather and he only reads Dickens. Archy respectfully calls him 'sir'. Archy's mother spends her days tending to her collection of begonia plants.
The McNallys and other denizens of their bespoke world are the creation of author Lawrence Sanders. I don't know why I haven't discovered Archy until now as the first book in the series, McNally's Secret, was published in 1992. It has to do with the theft of valuable stamps from Lady Cynthia Horowitz, a wealthy society matron and neighbor and friend of the McNallys. Before the end, though, Archy is faced with solving a homicide.
In the second book, McNally's Luck, Archy encounters a catnapping, the murders of a poet and his wife, and is introduced to the spiritualist world.
Archy is the narrator of these breezy, witty mysteries. I like him. In some ways he reminds me of Bertie Wooster. They both are fellows of independent means, they have servants who take care of the mundane chores of life, and they both belong to private clubs (in Archy's case, the Pelican Club). Bertie's car is two-seater (most likely an Aston Martin) while Archy sports around town in a fiery red Miata.
Although Bertie can't seem to get away from women in his life - aunts included - Archy is a bit of a playboy. They both have a quirky fashion sense that is not always appreciated - Archy's father often raises an eyebrow at his son's colorful outfits, and Jeeves casts many a disapproving eye on Bertie's sartorial choices.
Archy keeps a nightly handwritten journal of his investigations and refers to his notes often. He finds himself sharing clues with his pal and police detective Al Rogoff. He enjoys good food, a tasty daiquiri now and again, and has a sunny disposition.
Archy McNally is just the fellow you want to escort you around the upscale shops and boutiques of Palm Beach's ritzy Worth Avenue. And, being the generous soul that he is, he might just surprise you with a shiny bauble or two.