Jackson Gamble

Created by Gregory Stout

It’s just another wandering daughter job, but somehow, newbie P.I. writer Stout makes it work in Lost Little Girl (2021).

In his debut, down-scale Nashville gumshoe and day drinker JACKSON GAMBLE is hot on the trail of Gabrielle Hawkins, a missing 14-year-old. The detective figures she’s just another runaway, but her Bible-toting mother is convinced her daughter, a ”good and proper Christian,” has been the victim of foul play of some sort or another. She may be right.

As Gamble goes through his paces, suitably hard-boiled and cracking wise in suitably side-of-his-mouth fashion, he digs into Music City’s nasty netherworld of prostitution and pornography, tangling with some wackadoo religious nuts with a thing for snakes (Gabrielle’s dad is a pastor), a smattering of organized crime types and (why not?) a possible serial killer.

Nothing particularly new here, maybe—the “reasonably honest” ex-cop peppers his first person narration with Chandleresque similes (most of which work) and plenty of wry observations, opens with a detective-meets-client scene Spenser would immediately recognize, and there’s a definite dash of Lew Archer-type melancholia lurking at the edges. Still, the author brings it all home with enough savvy, flair and personality to make me wonder where he’s going to take Gamble next.

Keep an eye on this one, folks.


(August 4, 2022) Looks like I wasn’t he only one who was impressed—Lost Little Girl won a Shamus for Best First P.I. Novel from The Private Eye Writers of America. Let’s hope there’s plenty more to come.


Greg Stout has spent most of his career as an auto company exec and a public school teacher in the Chicago suburbs, laying history, language arts, reading, drama, film criticism and Latin on impressionable young minds, but his real passion is trains. He’s written over twenty books on the history of American railroads. Lost Little Girl was his debut mystery novel.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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