Jesus Christ, Boy Detective, stories by J. Bradley.
Every so often something comes along through the internet pipeline that genuinely makes me glad to be a reader. It isn’t too surprising that J. Bradley would be responsible for one of these rare, rare instances with his Jesus Christ, Boy Detective series. I’ve gathered a handful of these stories, published all over the internet (and one in a chapbook). I cannot believe that a publisher hasn’t picked these up as a collection. I’ve also heard that he’s working on a novella, so I can only imagine someone will pick that up and make him famous. I mean, you know, as famous as an actual talented writer can be. Which isn’t really that famous. But I digress.
The idea is that Jesus Christ is in the body of Timmy Hightower, a boy detective. This is a great idea, which I’ll give you a moment to savor, but Bradley doesn’t just run with it a la the Hardy Boys, he delves into the character of Jesus, as presented in certain texts you may be familiar with. Think of the boy Jesus, murdering birds, an alien wandering the middle-eastern landscape with unimaginable power, one foot on Earth, one in heaven. Now make him a boy detective.
The structure of these stories varies, but is mostly episodic, beginning en medias res with the scene of the crime, moving through the investigation and solving of the crime, and then ending with a nod to the larger plot.
Bradley’s stories are micro-fiction, usually. “From Jesus Christ, Boy Detective: The Royal Flush of Fate,” appeared in Unshod Quills introduces us to Timmy becoming the vessel for Jesus. “From Jesus Christ, Boy Detective: Everything Will Be Slashed,” appeared in in Red Lightbulbs and features Jesus Christ, Boy Detective dancing around the conventions of the boy-dective genre (and roundhouse kicking a bad guy). “Jesus Christ, Boy Detective and The Freshly Squeezed Slugger” appeared in Paragraph Line and fleshes out the character, introducing more violent crimes (it should be noted, Timmy Hightower/Jesus tend to investigate some pretty grisly stuff). This was the most complete of the stories thus far.
Here’s one in Whole Beast Rag (?) which is a little bit of a pain to get to (you might have to sign up): http://issuu.com/wholebeastrag/docs/edge. “Jesus Christ, Boy Detective: the Early Bird Gets the Shaft.” Here, Timmy Hightower/Jesus investigates a case of murder by arrows. There are also tantalizing hints concerning the larger plot. Cityscapes contains “Jesus Christ, Boy Detective: It’s a Small World After All.” Bradley progressively develops minor characters, such as Leopold, the knife-wielding associate. Bradley plays with the idea of faith – God must remain as uninvolved as possible because, “while the belief is off the charts, it’s a violent maddening one” and any sort of confirmation could spark violence that “would make Sodom and Gomorrah look like a backyard barbeque.”
There is a chapbook: We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, a Jesus Christ Boy Detective Mystery, available here: http://www.amazon.com/Were-Not-Kansas-Anymore-Detective/dp/1937739074 It’s phenomenal. Here’s one on Nothing To Say, xTx’ blog: http://www.notimetosayit.com/2012/08/supermodel-summer_5.html
I’m hoping Bradley is able to put out a collection, a novella, SOMETHING very soon. These stories are like choice B-Movies (of the “creative and really good despite the low budget” kind, not the “so bad they’re a little less bad” kind.). Until that happens, read the stories. Show Bradley some love. You won’t regret it.