Comedian Richard Belzer finds a new channel with a
wryly comic mystery novel starring himself.
comedian Richard Belzer crafts a successful hybrid of real life, show
biz and mystery fiction in “I Am Not a Cop!,” his first novel.
Using his role as Det. John Munch, formerly of the series Homicide and
now on Law & Order: SVU, as a jumping-off point for the action, Belzer
sets himself up as the detective-like protagonist of a missing
person/murder mystery story involving the Russian mob and other unsavory
Russian agents doing dirty work in New York.
Between takes on location around New York filming his show, Belzer gets
drawn into helping a Russian friend, Rudy Markovich, a former coroner he
met as an advisor on the crime show, who ends up going missing after
Belzer and Rudy get into some scraps with the pursuing Russians that
make the tabloids.
From there, Belzer the author gives Belzer the character a sidekick, a
feisty young black production assistant, Kali, who is dispatched by the
Law & Order producers to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t
keep pursuing what should be a police matter. Belzer the character
quickly co-opts Kali as his right-hand woman, chasing down leads and
researching the case. [The references to Law & Order are kept tangential
-- more like “the set” or “the location” or “night shoots”].
It is a little implausible to imagine the Belzer we know as the Belzer
character in the book in some scenes, where he’s practicing martial arts
and even successfully deploys this in a couple scraps during the action.
But it’s forgivable, redeemed greatly by the Marlowe-inspired banter
right out of Belzer’s wry stand-up sensibility that is injected
throughout the novel.
That goes a long way to making the story and the mystery move along at a
brisk pace and keeping the reader involved and curious about the mystery
that Belzer the author unfolds. One could easily “I Am Not A Cop!” being
the first book in another franchise for Belzer that will go even beyond
playing Det. John Munch on TV.