Dan Kearney, O.B., Larry Ballard, Bart Heslip, Gisele Marc, etc. (Dan Kearney & Associates)

Created by Joe Gores


The DAN KEARNEY & ASSOCIATES novels and short stories by Joe Gores are one of the all-time great private eye series; the closest anyone has ever come to a private eye version of Ed McBain’s famed 87th Precinct procedural novels. A motley crew of San Francisco detectives, repo men and skip tracers, DKA always (well, mostly) get their man.

Or woman.

Or car.

Among those who weave in and out of the stories and novels are:

DAN KEARNEY “The Great White Father” himself; gruff, no-nonsense, married, with children. Imagine Hammett’s Continental Op turned family man and business owner. He’d left his former employer, Walter’s Auto Agency ,with its best op in tow, to set up DKA. Now he runs his own agency his way, but he occasionally gets out from behind the desk and out in the field.

PATRICK MICHAEL “O.B.” O’BANNON Flame-haired, freckle-splattered, with a face that “blueprinted a middle-aged drinker’s life”. DKA’s best, most senior Op, he left Walter’s along with Kearney to start DKA.

BART HESLIP Young, hip, black, Larry’s best friend, and not nearly ambitious enough, according to his girlfriend.

LARRY BALLARD Young, idealistic, Bart’s best friend, tends to wear his heart on his sleeve. But he’s learning….

GISELE MARC Young, smart, ambitious, she started out as a secretary, but now works as an op, because that’s where the action is.

TRIN MORALES A corner-cutting Hispanic who struck out when he was on his own as a PI, and now works for DKA.

KEN WARREN The rookie superstar repo man who suffers from an almost cripplingspeech impediment.

Like the Continental Op series (also based on the experiences of a certain San Francisco P.I.), the DKA series started out as short stories in one of the top crime fiction magazines of the day. The first story, “The Mayfield Case,” appeared in the December 1967 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and eventually they were all collected in the Crippen & Landru publication Stakeout on Page Street (2000). It included an intro by Gores in which he explained who the real-life models were for the various characters, which real-life cases he based his plots on, and where each story fits in the longer saga.

I always had hopes, especially in the nineties, that Gores, who had devoted so much of his time to writing for television, would eventually bring this show to the little screen, where it would have been a natural. Steve Bocho, of Hill Street Blues fame, having finally gotten Cop Rock and LA Law out of his system, would have been a perfect fit for producer and director. But it never happened.

Too bad, because some hot shot TV producer who can write–or Gores himself–could have really gone to town with such a potentially great cast of characters.


Joe Gores was a three-time (and counting) Edgar winner, having nabbed awards for Best First Novel, Best Short Story and Best One-Hour Teleplay. A former private detective, he wrote the novel and screenplay for Hammett, and had a major sideline in writing for television, having contributed to Columbo, B.L. Stryker, Kojak, Magnum, P.I, Mike Hammer, and Remington Steele. He’s also resonsible for creating private eyes Neal Fargo, Danny Durant, Pierce Duncan and Bonecrack Krajewski. He always said he’d based his characters and situations on real ones he’d encountered while working for a San Francisco private eye firm.”


  • The Donald Westlake novel Drowned Hopes (1990), featuring hapless criminal genius Dortmunder, shares an entire chapter \with Gore’s DKA novel 32 Cadillacs (1992). But this isn’t the first time Gores and Westlake have high-fived each other. About 20 years ago, Dead Skip (1972), the first DKA novel, shared a chapter with Plunder Squad (1972), a Parker novel by Richard Stark (aka Westlake). And The Blackbird (1969), an Alan Grofield novel by Stark, shares a chapter with Slayground (1971), another Parker novel. Of course, these shared chapters are not exactly the same, but describe the same situations from different points of view (thanks to Jiro Kimura of The Gumshoe Site for the heads up on this one).


  • “…(a series as) authentic as a fist in your face.”
    — Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • “If anyone knows how to keep a carousel of a plot going–with multiple entrances and exits and any number of brass rings looking like the real thing–it’s Joe Gores. His “DKA files” books… provide the kind of plot where the reader must trust the author and settle back for the wild (and wonderful) ride.”
    –Otto Penzler (A Penzler Pick, August 2001, Amazon.com)
  • “Gores does for P.I.s what Ed McBain did for cops in his 87th Precinct series, with the difference that McBain was never a cop where Gores was a P.I., so I can feel the real-world grit in Gores’ P.I. procedurals… My favorite post-Chandler P.I. series… 32 Cadillacs is is my favorite in the DKA series and one of the most fun P.I. novels ever written. I once told Joe that I loved 32 Cadillacs but found a couple of over-the-top scenes a bit hard to believe. He said they were based on true incidents and told me the real stories. What actually happened was even wilder; he’d toned them down to put them in the book. Read it and you’ll know what a great storyteller we lost when Joe died.”
    — Vince Emery, The 14 Best Private Eye Novels of All Time (2012)



In the order in which they were intended to appear.

  • “File #1: The Mayfair Case” (December 1967, EQMM; also First Cases; aka “Find the Girl”)
  • “File #2: Stakeout on Page Street” (January 1968, EQMM)
  • “File #3: The Pedretti Case” (July 1968, EQMM; aka “The Three Halves”)
  • “File #4: Lincoln Sedan Deadline” (September 1968, EQMM)
  • “File #5: The Maria Navarro Case” (June 1969, EQMM; aka “Be Nice To Me”)
  • “File #6: Beyond the Shadow” (January 1972, EQMM)
  • “File #7: O Black and Unknown Bard” (April 1972, EQMM)
  • “File #8: The O’Bannon Blarney File” (1973, Men and Malice)
  • “File #9: Full Moon Madness” (February 1984, EQMM)
  • “File #10: The Maimed and the Halt” (January 1976, EQMM)
  • “File #11: Jump Her Lively, Boys!” (July 1984, EQMM)
  • “File #12: Do Not Go Gentle” (March 1989, EQMM)
  • “Inscrutable” (2001, The Mysterious Press Anniversary Anthology)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with more than a little help from Jim Doherty and Jiro Kimura.

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