Sat 18 Feb 2017
JOE GORES – 32 Cadillacs. DKA File #4. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1992; paperback, 1993.
It’s been fourteen years since the last DKA from Gores, so long that I’d despaired of another, but here it is, and it’s up for (though in my opinioni doesn’t merit) an Edgar.
Daniel Kearney Associates is a private detective agency operating out of San Francisco. DKA doesn’t do murders as their main source of revenue (though there have been some in previous books), they repossess cars, and do collections and skip traces. In 32 Cadillacs they have the repo case of a lifetime, as no less than 31 new Cadillacs have been purchased by fraudulent means and absconded with, all financed by the same bank. The 32nd is a finny pink ’58.
The scam is being run by Gypsies, who are involved in a plan dealing with the Imminent death of their King (who lies in a hospital in Steubenville, Iowa) and the potential selection of his successor. The story details DKA’s frantic efforts to find the cars, and the machinations of the opposing Gypsy factions as well.
All the old gang is here: Dan Kearney, Giselle Marc, Bart Heslip, and Ballard and O’Bannion. Gores writes bare-bones prose, and manages to keep the story moving forward in a straight line — no mean feat with the viewpoints shifting rapidly among the DKA bunch and various members of the Gypsy gang of miscreants. There is enough characterization that the players seem real, though they will be more so to past readers of the series. Gores did a lot of research into the Gypsy way of life, and the plot is entertaining.
I didn’t like this as much as earlier tales in the series. It lacked their hard edge, and in fact was more of a caper novel, even including a cameo by Westlake’s Dortmunder. The DKA stories are pretty much sui generis, but this wasn’t the best one. Lesser Gores is still worth reading, though.
The DKA File series —
1. Dead Skip (1972)
2. Final Notice (1973)
3. Gone, No Forwarding (1978)
4. 32 Cadillacs (1992)
5. Contract Null and Void (1996)
6. Stakeout on Page Street (2000)
7. Cons, Scams, and Grifts (2001)