Picks and Pans Review: Night Vision: Confessions of Gil Lewis, Private Eye

updated 11/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by John Sedgwick

The author interviewed Gil Lewis, a Boston investigator, for a series of articles that ran in an underground newspaper. The pieces were turned into this fascinating and often surprising real-life detective story. Lewis is middle-aged, divorced with three grown children, and still a shamus. Although he has a house, he lives in his car, which he uses to tail straying spouses in divorce cases, the bulk of his business. He has an ad in the Yellow Pages, but most of his customers are referred to him by lawyers. The author is admiring, if not fawning: Lewis "sometimes imagined himself digging for buried treasure. For him, truth had a kind of inherent value. It made him feel rich." The detective has a curious case involving the novelist Rita Mae Brown and a woman state representative who are being harassed by threatening calls and vandalism. After a long, complicated investigation, the motive turns out to be sheer jealousy. The National Enquirer hires Lewis to track down and photograph Howard Hughes (a rare failure). Occasionally Lewis, like a lawyer, will take a job for a bad guy, such as working for the attorney of a man convicted of three murders. But he keeps his license, and he claims he never breaks the law. He isn't modest, either. "In this business, you see, there are artists and there are businessmen, and I'm an artist." It's all believable, absorbing and more entertaining than many novels. (Simon and Schuster, $12.95)

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