Book Review: Fletch’s Moxie by Gregory McDonald (1982)

Fletch’s Moxie is the third book starring the character made famous by Chevy Chase in the films Fletch and Fletch Lives that I’ve read. The other two were the first book, Fletch, and another one called Fletch Won. I can’t really remember many of the details of either book off the top of my head, but I do know that I burned through them with a quickness, which is no small feat for a slow reader like myself. This one took me a while longer because I don’t put enough time aside for reading. I couldn’t fall asleep last night, so I finished Moxie. This time around, a very wealthy Fletch shows up to meet with his old school friend who now happens to be a big-time movie star by the name of Moxie Mooney. In the first chapter, Moxie’s agent gets knifed while being filmed on a talk show on the set of the movie with no one around but Moxie and the host. Fletch decides to get her out of the way and heads to Key West along with her father who is one of the biggest movie stars of all time. It’s his legendary drunkenness that alerts the media to their presence, which also brings down some of the other actors from the film and a pair of directors. Fletch stays in contact with the police chief who’s working the case, trading information with her as he tries to clear Moxie’s name. After 283 pages of headscratching at who really could have done it, the explanation was pretty interesting and the ending a bummer.

Plot and mystery aside, I really enjoyed being in the company of these characters, even though none of them are particularly likable. Not only do you get treated to some interesting behind-the-scenes type info on the movie industry and creative people, but it all seems to jive with other accounts and even though the book came out in 1982, I’m sure you wouldn’t have any problems subbing in real actors you know and love (or hate) in each of the character’s places. It’s interesting that McDonald wrote this three years before the first Fletch movie came out. It would have been interesting to get his thoughts on Hollywood through Fletch afterwards.

Some of you might be wondering how the book version of Fletch compares with the movie one. Not a page went by where I wasn’t picture 1985-era Chevy Chase as Fletch, which is helpful because I don’t usually visualize what’s happening when I read a book. It’s more like a radio show or a podcast to me, but at least it’s in Chase’s voice. I’d say the two versions seem pretty similar in the movies and this book. He’s very quick with his words, knows all the right questions to ask and has a way with the ladies. He doesn’t do much of the fake name-giving, but this story doesn’t really offer up much use for such skills. There was one thing I was confused about though and that was Fletch’s wealth. I’m not really sure how he got it. He explains that he got the money for not doing something bad that got done anyway, which I’m guessing is a reference to the events of the first movie (which are very similar to that of the movie). He then talks about investing that money, but he says he lies. This would be the problem with reading these books out of order and having a crummy memory. Dude has enough to own an Italian villa! Ah well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.

So, if you’re a mystery fan or a fan of the movies, I don’t think you can go wrong with picking up one of the many Fletch books. I’ve got another sitting in my to-read pile that I picked up at a garage sale along with this one and the horror anthology I read “The Lonesome Place” in. Reading these books makes me wish that Kevin Smith had gotten the new Fletch movie with Jason Lee off the ground. If another movie’s not in the cards, I could easily see Fletch becoming a TV show in the vein of Castle. The idea’s a freebie, if you want more, drop me an E-mail big huge networks.

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