Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Dead Skip: Joe Gores

The DKA Files series by Joe Gores features a group of investigators who work for Daniel Kearny Associates, a firm specializing in repossessions of vehicles whose owners have defaulted on their loan payments. On the surface that sounds boring, but really it is not. There are six novels (plus one book of short stories) in the series.


Dead Skip (1972) is the first book in the series; Bart Heslip, a private investigator working for Dan Kearny Associates, is in a coma following a car crash. The police think he totaled the car while joyriding. His friend and coworker, Larry Ballard, knows that behavior does not fit Bart's character. Dan Kearney, his boss, gives Ballard 72 hours to work through Heslip's open files, looking for a clue to connect one of them to Bart's “accident.”


MY THOUGHTS

Joe Gores tells a  fast-moving story, with believable characters. He based the stories in this series on his own experiences as a private investigator in San Francisco, working for a firm very much like DK Associates. He provides a realistic, non-glamorous view of private investigators and their daily activities. The search takes place primarily in San Francisco and some East Bay communities.

One of the most fun parts of this novel for me was the crossover to the Parker universe. In this novel, Dan Kearney gets involved in the investigation towards the end, and along the way he runs into an old acquaintance, who turns out to be Parker, a series character created by Donald E. Westlake (as Richard Stark). It is only a brief understated scene, but it was a kick to recognize who he was referring to since I just started reading the Parker novels this year. Parker's encounter with Kearny is told in more detail and from a different perspective in Plunder Squad, a Parker novel. Nick Jones goes into much more detail on that in his review (of both books) at Existential Ennui.

In his review in 1001 Midnights (1986), Bill Pronzini calls this book "an excellent private-eye procedural." He also says: "Even better are the other two novels in the series — Final Notice (1973) and Gone, No Forwarding (1978)." (At the time those were the only books published in the series.)

See Also reviews by TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time and Rick Robinson at The Broken Bullhorn (Rick now blogs at Tip the Wink).


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Publisher: Random House, 1972
Length:    184 pages
Format:    Hardback (book club edition)
Series:     DKA Files #1
Setting:    San Francisco
Genre:     Mystery
Source:    Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, 2016.

25 comments:

  1. It sounds like an interesting series. Knowing the passion of many people for their cars I am sure re-possessing them can create lots of drama.

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    1. It is interesting, Bill, and the setting in time and place adds to the story for me.

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  2. I have not read Joe Gores in many years. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I have been planning to read his books for several years, and now I am glad I finally got to them, Patti.

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  3. I'll really have to dust off my copies of his books, Tracy. I haven't read him yet.

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    1. I picked up this one plus the next two in the series at the last book sale, and already had 32 Cadillacs, so I am set for while, Col.

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  4. Excellent! I've got this one for ages and was looking for a spur to reading it and this is just what I needed to hear - thanks Tracy!

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    1. That's good, Sergio. I want to see what you think of it. I just finished Hammett by Joe Gores also.

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  5. You know, Tracy, I don't think I've read a series before that features a repo company. That's a really intriguing context for a crime series. I may have to look this one up.

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    1. I guess I haven't either, Margot. Very interesting subject, for sure.

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  6. I've heard of Joe Gores, but I don't think I've ever read any of his stories. This sounds like a good place to start, Tracy. Who knew that there were THIS many authors I'd never read - jeez!

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    1. I know, Yvette, it is just overwhelming the number of authors out there, new and old. We are lucky, but it is overwhelming to keep up with.

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  7. All respect to Nick Jones, my superior as a blogger in every respect but one--detailed review of novels written by Donald E. Westlake (or Richard Stark).

    Spoilers abound, beware.

    https://thewestlakereview.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/review-plunder-squad/

    In the later,DKA novel, 32 Cadillacs, a lot less hardboiled and way funnier than Dead Skip, there's a crossover with an entirely different Westlake franchise. One of Kearny's people runs into the Dortmunder gang (who don't inhabit the same fictional universe as Parker, and who gives a holy ****), and the same incident is described from their perspective in Drowned Hopes.

    I reviewed all that too. No expense has been spared. Well, no expense has been incurred, other than that involved in getting the books.

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out, Chris, I am sure I have read your post so I don't know how I missed it when I was putting this post together. I heard about the other crossover too, but haven't read the Dortmunder books -- or not recently anyway.

      I love your in-depth coverage, but I try to not read too much about a book so I have to wait until I have read a book to come back to some of your posts.

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  8. The only Gores I've read is Hammett, which I really enjoyed. Now I'm going to check his other stuff. Thanks, Tracy!

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    1. Correction: I read Spade & Archer, too. I liked it, but liked Hammett more.

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    2. I read Hammett just about a week after I finished Dead Skip, Mathew. I was surprised that they were written within 3 years of each other. Hammett was something else, not what I was expecting... I liked it a lot. I have Spade & Archer, but haven't gotten to it yet.

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    3. Spade & Archer was a tad too heavy handed for my taste, Tracy. The Spade character more a caricature of Hammett's.

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    4. I have put it off for just that concern, Matthew. (Also I have too many books, never will catch up with my reading.) Have you read The Maltese Falcon?

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    5. Probly more than any other book, and I've watched the movie (the one with Bogart and gang) more than any other movie, except maybe The Big Lebowski.

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    6. Very interesting. I have watched Maltese Falcon a lot of times, also The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski about the same amount of times, but the movie I have watched the most is Casablanca.

      I have read Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man, but nothing else by Hammett. Do you have other of his books that you would recommend?

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  9. This sounds good. --K.

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    1. I think you would like it, Keishon. He has written a lot of standalone books that I don't know anything about ... I would like to try some of those.

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  10. Don't know this series at all, and I'll probably leave it that way - have far too much to read anyway!

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    1. I don't blame you, Moira. I have too much to read too. I enjoyed the look at the 1970's and Bay area communities at that time, and will pursue the series. Also want to try some of his standalone books.

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