Charlie O'Brien

(creator: Alan Dale Dickinson)


Alan Dale Dickinson
Charles W Kennedy O'Brien (who likes to be known as Charlie) is a Private Investigator in Los Angeles who travels all around the world to solve criminal cases involving white collar crimes such as bank frauds. In the book reviewed below, he calls himself a "Christian Detective" but carries two guns with him at all times and, if attacked, is quite ready to shoot to kill. It was after being shot himself that he had promised to become a Christian Detective if God would spare his life. "He did, of course."

Before becoming a P.I., he had worked for the Los Angeles Police Department as "a Homicide police detective". He had been married for thirty years when "My lovely former spouse decided all of a sudden to desert me for another man. It was kind of a shock to me." He has no "girlfriend right now, poor old Charlie, but I am praying and wishing that I did. My associates and church members are praying for that as well." But that is about all the praying he seems to do.

Alan Dale Dickinson was born in downtown Los Angeles, California, during an earthquake and, although he has traveled the globe, has never found any place he liked better than LA. After studying Accounting, Economics, Finance and Management at California State University-Fullerton, he spent thirty-five years in banking and business in and around Los Angeles. He became a Corporate Vice President of Bank of America, and, now retired, lives at La Habra, California.

His love of detective novels, movies and television programs and a life-long interest in real Private Investigators and detectives led to his first novel, Charlie O'Brien, Private Investigator, which he self-published in 2009. It was followed by four other Charlie O'Brien novels, including The Christian Detective (almost a straight copy of his first book!) reviewed below, all self-published and available on Kindle.

The Christian Detective (published on Kindle in 2012)
The Christian Detective is Charlie O'Brien or "Old Charlie the P. I. (Private Investigator)" as he likes to call himself. It is one of the author's oddities that whenever he uses the term P.I. (which he does frequently) he nearly always finds it necessary to explain to the reader yet again that it stands for Private Investigator! And when he mentions Charlie, he often unnecessarily adds "me" in brackets as if it were beyond the reader's powers to remember that much.


The plot, such as it is, involves seventy-five million dollars of embezzled funds from a big LA bank that sends Charlie off from Los Angeles to Russia and Georgia. But the author's main interest seems to be in his long and increasingly tedious asides that have nothing at all to do with the plot, and seem to come straight from him rather than from Charlie who is the story-teller throughout. He explains that he "included a little bit of personal insight that I have gleaned from my 35 years in the Banking; Business; Teaching; Real Estate; and Security professions." In practice this means that we get over 32 pages devoted to a description of the Federal Reserve System, and over 40 pages on a dissertation on "Being Content". And there are pages listing each of the wines that his clients prefer (one of which, we are told, is "fruit rich Bourdeauz Sperieur", and I don't think the spelling is meant to be funny), a comparison of housing costs then and now, a list of famous people who lived in Malibu, an inventory of valuable paintings held by the bank, a list of baseball teams, and so it goes on, and on. It really defies belief.

Apart from the author's own mistakes (he does not seem to understand that you can't just add an apostrophe to any word that ends in "s"), there are innumerable errors in the Kindle edition. Even the spacing is faulty throughout the first part of the book when a strange gap appear below every 2 or 3 lines, as shown below.

There are frequent typos (as with "form" instead of "from" in the example above). Some are just minor mistakes such as referring to "the New Scotland Yard" which it should just be "New Scotland Yard", but who is California governor "Arnold Swartenneger"? That's not the way he spells his name. And there are even references to an "attached chart" that isn't there!

It is an extraordinary book in which the author just seems to chat on and on in a gently amusing way but without managing to build up a really coherent or very interesting plot. What is even odder is that almost the entire text is a straight copy of the author's first book, Charlie O'Brien, Private Investigator. The only change seems to be that Charlie is now described as a "Christian detective". Could it be that the author imagined this would help him sell a few more copies? Incidentally, the paperback edition of the first book contains just as many typos, spelling mistakes and major spacing errors as the later version.




The author has his own website.



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The Christian Detective cover
The cover looks a bit home-made, and unfortunately the Kindle edition is full of mistakes.
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Holmes