JOE GORES – Contract Null and Void. DKA #5, Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1996; paperback, 1997.

   I was more than a little disappointed in the last DKA book, 32 Cadillacs.  It was the first in the series in a number of years, and I was really looking forward to it — but it turned out to be a pure caper novel rather than the PI procedural I was expecting, and which earlier DKA books had been. So I started this one a bit apprehensively; not that the last one was bad, but it sure wasn’t what I wanted and expected from a DKA novel.

   DKA stands for Daniel Kearney Associates, a private detective agency run by, logically enough, Dan Kearney- — who is sleeping on an operative’s couch because his wife has kicked him out. For reasons that seemed good at the time, DKA has taken on the job of body-guarding a computer genius at his home because of recent attempts on his life. On his own, Larry Ballard — on whose sofa Kearney is sleeping — is looking into the disappearance of a union official, and this one gets rough in a hurry. And yet another operative is up in redwood country, trying to repo some large tires from a larger Swede.

   Gores and DKA are back to their old form, I’m delighted to report. The ensemble of Kearney, Giselle Marc, Ken Warner, Ballard, and O’Banion are all doing the things real private detectives do, and reinforcing Gores’ reputation as the only writer going who writes “realistic” PI tales.

   It takes an accomplished writer who juggles three stories and a number of frequently shifting viewpoints, but  Gores handles  it with aplomb and panache.  He doesn’t do flashy (at least with DKA), but he does damned good.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #26, July 1996.