Not That I Recall is both a hoot and a considerable achievement. Clemente manages the difficult juggling act of writing humorously through his uncanny ability to capture the voice of—let’s be charitable—a mentally-challenged narrator without mocking his off-the-chart mental and physical afflictions.
But what is the most impressive thing about Clemente’s murder mystery (the character’s wife was murdered) is how he meets the demands of the first-person narration of the hard-boiled mystery genre. In the hands of authors like Raymond Chandler, the reader was fairly provided with reliable and user-friendly information as discovered by the detective narrator from start (taking the case, being warned away from it by attacks in the form of blackjack-wielding thugs and pistol-whipping cops) to finish (discovering the true criminals reach all the way to the top of society and are thus impervious).
Chandler equipped his character Phillip Marlowe with all the necessary skills for him to wade through a hopelessly corrupt society and solve a crime long buried by those at the top. His Marlowe was iron-jaw tough, street-wise, and appropriately cynical about the human race without sacrificing the romantic idealism that powered his investigations.
In contrast, Clemente’s protagonist is the worst sort of nominee to step into Marlowe’s shoes. For Clemente’s character is afflicted with short-term memory loss, narcolepsy, Asperger syndrome (the character’s chief focus in life is to acquire as many blueberry pop tarts as possible), and a crippling disconnect with people; all of which robs the character of the paramount tool for detective work of getting a read on who is telling the truth or not.
Accordingly, the audience sympathizes with such a protagonist whose ability to get through life without hurting himself or others is one of the marvels of the world. As such, Clemente provides the reader with suspense not only via who did what to whom but with how many pedestrians and drivers could be killed when the narcoleptic character gets behind the steering wheel of a car. Nevertheless, Clemente pulls off the original feat of having his un-savvy and beyond-mentally-challenged character effectively investigate and resolve the murder of a wife who because of his drifting in and out of reality he barely remembers.
With this character, the author moves well beyond and thus vanquishes Gillian Flynn and Stig Larsson, whose damaged protagonists (usually the result of sexual abuse), despite all the coping mechanisms of drugs and alcohol and skin-cutting, are able to mentally hold it together long enough to empirically solve a crime.
~Ron Capshaw for IndieReader