Thursday, March 30, 2017
Review of Dead Skip by Joe Gores (Mysterious Press, 1972)
Dead Skip, first published in 1972, was the first book in the Dan Kearny Associates series that charted the work of a private investigation company in San Francisco. Gores worked as a PI for twelve years and his knowledge of how to track down people and property is evident in the story. In this case an employee of DKA is attacked and left in coma, the crime crudely faked as a road traffic accident. A young investigator, Ballard, hunts for the killer, aided by Kearny himself. The strength of the book is in the procedural elements and the pacing. Gores keeps the prose tight and focused on the action. The result is a story that moves along at a fair clip, but somewhat at the expense of characterisation, which is mainly inferred from behaviour and dialogue. Moreover, there is little in the way of backstory – in many ways, the storytelling is like a television script. The plotting is nicely done, with Ballard unearthing new clues and chasing an elusive killer, though I wasn’t quite convinced by the denouement. That said, it was an enjoyable, quick read.