Nick Polo

Created by Jerry Kennealy

Add Jerry Kennealy to the short list of private eye writers who have also been real-life private eyes. Funny, but Dashiell Hammett, Joe Gores and Kennealy all worked the mean streets of San Francisco.

Anyway, back in the day, when everyone else in the shamus game seemed to be either trying to out-Spenser Spenser or tucking a gun into her purse, nice, American-Sicilian boy NICK POLO was a pleasant change of pace

He’s a bit of a rogue — a gamblin’ man with a wild streak. He’s slick, has been known to run a hustle or two, and he knows his way around a roulette wheel. And he’s just morally ambiguous enough to be interesting. In fact, he once spent six months in a federal pen for making a “stupid mistake.” The mistake, it turns out, was trusting a lawyer. Not that the hoosegow served as much of a deterrent — because Nick’s still inclined to “shave” a few corners if he thinks he can get away with it.

But deep down, he’s a decent enough guy. A former cop, he left the force when his parents were killed in a plane crash, figuring he could live off the insurance and a few wise investments. Alas, the investments weren’t so wise, after all, and Nick was forced to go back to work, this time for hire. Which is when he made his “little” mistake and trusted the lawyer who was his client. But Nick did the time, and got his license back.

But that was then, and this is now. What with his P.I. work, the occasional gambling score, and living rent-free in his folks’ old place, he gets by.

And he has an uncle who looks after him. Uncle Pee Wee’s a bookie who protests that he’s “not connected,”but nevertheless he knows “who’s who and what’s what.”

Also looking after Nick lately is the lovely and talented Jane Tobin, a political columnist for one of the local papers.

Another thing I liked — Nick wasn’t yet another out-of-place Luddite private eyes trying to pretend it was still 1939. Nick might not have been a hardcore techie, but he was pretty hep to the cyberjive of the late eighties and early nineties, actually owning (and using) a home computer. That’s something surprisingly few “modern” fictional P.I.s could claim at the time. Many seemed to live, loudly and proudly, in some dusty, bizarre parallel universe where computers (and fax machines, cell phones, the Internet, databases, etc.) didn’t even exist. So it was a nice touch to have Nick living in the real world, adding an air of authenticity to the proceedings.


Born and bred in the City by the Bay, Jerry Kennealy has worked as a police officer and firefighter, as well as a licenced private investigator, adding great authenticity to his novels. Besides the Polo mysteries, two of which have been nominated for Shamus Awards, he’s written several non-series thrillers lately. He’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America and has served in the executive of the Private Eye Writers of America.

Kennealy wrote ten Polo novels and a handful of short stories, and they’re all good, solid reads. Even better? After twenty years, in 2017 he popped up in an eleventh novel, Long Shot, and it’s as good as anything he’s ever done.

You want dependable? Polo’s your man.




Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

One thought on “Nick Polo

  1. I have just discovered Jerry Kennealy and Nick Polo. He writes the “no nonsense” detective fiction that I admire. His narrative voice rivals – and frequently exceeds – Hammetts’ Continental Op stories.

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