In Robert Rotenberg’s book, Heart of the City, there is a surprise opening for long time readers of the series. Toronto detective, Ari Greene, is returning to Canada after spending time in England after he was cleared of killing his lover, Jennifer Raglan, in the previous book, Stranglehold. With him is 20 year old, Alison Gilroy, his daughter.
Ari had never known he was a father until after Alison’s mother had died. Following instructions her solicitor contacted Greene to advise he has a daughter. Shocked but elated he travels to England. The solicitor arranges for him to meet Alison and she learns that her birth father was Greene not the unnamed New Zealander she had understood was her father. After some time together she expresses interest in going to live in Toronto and they return to Canada.
Her presence adds several dimensions to the book.
There is another generation of the Greene family. Ari’s father, Yitzhak, is delighted to have a granddaughter:
…. [He] is the opposite of Ari. Outgoing and fun, he hugged and kissed her all the time. Within days she was calling him Grandpa Y, and soon he was fixing up a room for her in the basement of Ari’s house to give her some privacy.
There is a new dynamic for Ari having an adult daughter. They are establishing a parental relationship while living together.
She becomes a part of the story through her anonymous blog, Kensington Confidential.
Alison’s unexpected entrance into the series reminded me of two other famous fictional sleuths who learned they were fathers long years after the child’s birth.
I remember being caught totally off guard over 30 years ago when I read The Lonely Silver Rain by John D. MacDonald. In the final book of the Travis McGee series he learns that he is the father of a teenage daughter, Jean, whose mother, Puss Killian, had been McGee’s lover in Pale Grey for Guilt.
Jean has an unnerving unseen presence for the normally unflappable McGee through the book as he keeps finding cat shaped pipe cleaners outside the door to his houseboat, the Busted Flush. Only at the end does he actually meet her.
It was very clear that McGee was excited by the new relationship and it is a regret that MacDonald died before he could have developed that relationship in more books. I expect Jean would have wanted to become part of McGee’s “salvage operations” but McGee, more conscious of danger for her than himself, would have unsuccessfully sought to keep her out of the operations.
A generation later Harry Bosch, in the double digit series by Michael Connelly, learns he has a 4 year old daughter, Maddie, with former FBI agent, Rachel Wish. The abrasive hard nosed detective is softened by being a father. He enters her life somewhat tentatively.
In the book series she comes to live with him after her mother is killed while Harry and Rachel are seeking to rescue Maddie from kidnappers.
In last year’s addition to the series, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Maddie has finished high school and Harry is dealing with the emotions of her going away to university.
In the television series a different storyline is developing. Rachel and Maddie come to spend time with Harry in Los Angeles after a killing puts their safety in Las Vegas in issue.
Each of Greene, McGee and Bosch are hard men made a little softer by learning they are fathers.
I found it interesting that all 3 unknown children were girls. I do not have a theory why each of the authors chose the unknown child to be a daughter. I invite comments on the authorial choice of girls.