JERRY KENNEALY – Beggar’s Choice. Nick Polo #9. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1994. No mass market paperback edition.

   One of the cover blurbs calls this an “underrated series,” and I’d have to agree. Almost none of the books have made it to paperback, which is dismaying when you think about the large amount of trash that does. Kennealy is, like his character, a San Francisco PI.

   Polo and his lady friend are doing a regular stint of volunteer work in a soup kitchen when one of the homeless regulars asks Nick to check a couple of license plate numbers. He says they belong to people who’ve been generous to him, but Nick has doubts about that. He has even more doubts when they turn out ti belong to a Tong lord and a wealthy businessman, but before he can find out anything else, the homeless man is dead, victim of a somewhat suspicious hit-and-run. He decides to check into it a little further, and the hornets stat buzzing about the proverbial nest.

   The Polo books aren’t Edgar material but they are enjoyable, solid examples of standard PI fare without a lot of breast-beating, angst, and Significant Social Issues. Polo is a likable and well-developed character, as is his current lady, reporter Jane Tobin.

   Kennealy’s prose is competent though not flashy, and he tells a reasonably fast-moving, well-constructed story. Though he doesn’t overwhelm you with ambiance, he obviously knows San Francisco [and overall, what he’s doing].

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #17, January 1995.

       The Nick Polo series —


Polo Solo (1987)
Polo Anyone? (1988)
Polo’s Ponies (1988)
Polo in the Rough (1989)
Polo’s Wild Card (1990)
Green With Envy (1991)
Special Delivery (1992)
Vintage Polo (1993)
Beggar’s Choice (1994)
All That Glitters (1997)
Long Shot (2017)


“Polo at the Ritz” (May 1993, New Mystery; also 1999, First Cases 3)
“Reluctant Witness” (2000, The Shamus Game)
“Carole on Lombard” (2001, Mystery Street)
“Love for Bail” (2015, Fifty Shades of Grey Fedora)