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  • Writer's pictureJeff South

Jeff South, Teen Detective

As I type this, I'm immersed in a binge of Veronica Mars, season one. I guess you could say I'm officially a Marshmallow. If you don't know what that means, then I'm sad for you.

Veronica Mars is one in a long line of one of my favorite character types: the teen detective. Growing up I kept a running list of what I wanted to be. This was not a collection of careers I wanted to pursue as an adult. No, it was an ever-evolving registry of what I wanted to do at whatever age I happened to be. What can I say? A steady diet of books, television, and movies combined with what can only be described as a wild, all-consuming imagination convinced me my life could be so much cooler if I were only a backyard astronaut, a monster hunter, or a kid inventor. One hobby remained constant: teen detective.

I wanted to be solve mysteries. Pop culture provided me with an endless supply of role models: the Scooby gang of Mysteries, Inc., Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew. I read almost all the Hardy Boys books. An intrepid, plucky teen who was smarter than everyone in the room sounded like a person I wanted to be. I suppose it's attributed to longing for a life beyond the mundane. The stories of teen detectives depicted a world of adventure, intrigue, and mystery far more interesting than my plain ol' high school existence.

My senior year I served on our high school paper. Of course, this prompted fantasies of being an investigative reporter who stumbles across scandals, mysteries, and major scoops. So, I added that to the list and it stayed on there until college. Yes, I carried my list through college.

Now, I'm a 52-year old grandpa with a corporate job and a self-published novel. I still have my list though. As I watch Veronica Mars trying to solve the murder of her best friend while taking on a minor case of the week, I'm once again drawn to that world. I just have to change the title.

Jeff South: Grandpa Detective.

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