Did a detective really set up shop in a Carroll Gardens townhouse, or did the owners just have a sense of humor?
That's what everyone who walked past 410 Clinton St. this past week probably asked themselves when they encountered a front-yard sign for the Chesin, Chesin, Chesin & Chesin Detective Agency.
A private investigator does, in fact, live at the address, DNAinfo has learned.
At 4-feet tall, he's still waiting for his first-ever client to knock on the door.
Alex Roth Chesin, 9, otherwise known as Chief Detective A.R. Chesin, draws occupational inspiration from the mystery chapter books he's read and the stories his grandfather started telling him — about the two of them solving imaginary crimes together — five years ago.
Those tales soon expanded the two-man agency into a family business, establishing Alex's grandmother, and his new baby sister, Becca, as members of the firm.
Now A.R. Chesin wants his persona to tackle more mysteries in the real world. Ideally, their solving would entail more work than tracking down misplaced household items or locating the neighborhood's best burger, the latter of which he did with help of an iPhone.
Siri can recommend burger joints in the area, but she "wouldn't know ... why somebody was smashing statues of Napoleon in Sherlock Holmes," he pointed out, referring to a legendary Arthur Conan Doyle case.
"I don't know that his sleuthing skills have really been formally tested," said Scott Chesin, Alex's father and a partner at the Mayer Brown law firm, but "he's at least ready with the get-up." His houndstooth-patterned fedora and belted trench coat resemble those of the fictional boy detective Nate the Great.
The aspiring private eye plans to charge clients 25 cents a case because, he said, "Encyclopedia Brown charges the same amount."
As for the extra expenses the sign advertising his services says he may incur, those could include "lunch, maybe — like a few dollars for a grilled cheese sandwich."
The sign itself was a Hanukkah present from his parents, Chesin and Jansen Po, who moved their family into 410 Clinton St. in October.
At the time, Po wondered what to do with the iron sign post planted in front of the house, a remnant of the days when the building's basement served as a doctor's office.
”It felt like something should go there, so it sat vacant for a while, and all of a sudden, one day, I just had this beam of inspiration," said Po, head of the pre- and lower schools at Packer Collegiate Institute, where Alex is also a student.
Her husband put in an order to National Sign & Design in Bensonhurst, and when the weather thawed several months later, the corrugated plastic sign made its inaugural appearance at his son's request.
”We just thought it was entertainment for ourselves, and it didn’t really occur to us that other people would be buzzing about it — or if they did, we just assumed they would see it, chuckle at it, and move on," Po said.
But after the Chesins' next-door neighbors inquired about the sign, the rest of the neighborhood went next door to satisfy their curiosity, she said.
That's left A.R. Chesin, a more practiced storyteller than detective, anxious for the opportunity to prove his investigative abilities (which he'll hone at summer camp this year.)
"He’s waiting for someone to knock on the door and hire him to solve a mystery," his father said, "but it hasn’t happened yet.”