Rick Reese is probably Nick Kepler’s most loyal sidekicks. He first appears the Kepler’s debut, “A Walk in the Rain” as a bar patron. However, “Walk” was the second story I’d written for Kepler. He is Nick’s client in “Race Card,” ironically pitting him against suburban cop Wolf. “Race Card” was written first, but published later.
There really is a Rich Reese. I used to work with him a long time ago, and Deputy Reese’s personality owes a lot to the former dishwasher and (later) restaurant manager from Akron. Like Kepler’s friend, he looks a little like a young, ornery version of Bill Cosby with a high-pitched voice and a warped sense of humor. The real Rich and I had a shared love of Led Zeppelin and Camaros, each owning one at the same time, both taking turns taking the other’s car up to 100 mph.
But Nick didn’t meet Rick until both were staring middle age in the face. And while it’s clear Rick doesn’t want to hire a PI to handle his harassment problem, nor is Nick too thrilled about possibly busting a friend – a cop friend at that, both men suck it up because this Rick Reese has kids. Turns out Reese’s suspicions were wrong, and he eventually becomes a regular operative for Kepler in his off-duty hours.
Like Elaine Haskell, Nick’s long-suffering secretary, Reese fills a role normally given to the psycho sidekick. Whereas Elaine is Nick’s conscience, Reese is extra muscle, only with a conscience of his own. He keeps Nick from committing murder a couple of times, and reminds Nick of his former days as a cop.