“Peekaboo” Frankie Fagan

Created by James Dalessandro

According to reader Angelo Hazifotis, “If you have not read James Dalessandro’s Bohemian Heart (1993)…you’re missing one of the most beloved and original P.I.’s of the nineties.”

“PEEKABOO” FRANKIE FAGAN is a former San Francisco cop turned long-haired private eye who runs the City Lights Detective Agency, and definitely marches to his own drum—he roars around town on a Norton Commando. He’s obsessed with getting the goods on the shady–but extremely powerful—real estate dynasty controlled by the Farragut family. It’s that obsession, in fact, that cost him his job on the SFPD, but when William Farragut IV is found murdered, his widow, the prime suspect, hires Franke to find evidence that will clear her of murder charges.

Soon enough, of course, Frankie is in way over his head, wrapped up in the usual mess of betrayal, buried secrets, and, of course, lust. Turns out the widow “kissed better than most women make love.”

We’re deep into the noir vein here, and the book drew considerable praise from those who read it for the author’s deft mining—and equally deft subversions—of several of the expected tropes.

Problem is, that not many people read it. Initially published in hardcover by St. Martin’s Press in the nineties, it wasn’t  released in paperback or digitally until over twenty years later, nor was there a sequel, so it more or less slid through the cracks


James Dalessandro is a veteran screenwriter who returned to his first love, fiction, out of frustration with Hollywood. He considers his first novel, Bohemian Heart, to be a paen to one of his other great loves, San Francisco. He uses the city’s history and colorful characters as the settings for his novels. Citizen Jane, a true crime story, is set in Marin County, and relates the story of Jane Alexander, a quiet housewife, who spent 13 years tracking down a murderer, and later founded Citizens Against Homicide to find justice for the families of murder victims. And a prequel to Bohemian Heart, entitled 1906, about the San Francisco earthquake and similar issues, is in the works.


  • “A low-calorie, proletarian Presumed Innocent that packs an incredible amount of detection, suspense, and fireworks into a tiny package.”
    —Kirkus (1993)
  • “A great read, very smart, almost too smart.”
    — Barry Gifford
  • “My favorite private eye novel is Bohemian Heart by James Dalessandro and my favourite private eye is “Peekaboo” Frankie Fagen.  It’ss the only private eye novel that I like more than my next favorite private eye novels by Raymond Chandler. It’s such a great book, with prose like a Raymond Chandler story.”
    — Malcolm Boutwell (Private Eye Fan) 


  • “I’m amazed at the reception of Bohemian Heart, many reviewers compared it to the work of Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, Scott Turow, etc. It covers 100 years of San Francisco history in a contemporary mystery, and it’s full of the politics, corruption and colorful characters who populate one of the world’s great cities….A film adaptation of Bohemian Heart is on the way. I think (the book is) funny, literate, and constantly surprising. I just hope it finds its way to more and more readers….”
    — James Dalessandro, via Amazon.com



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Angelo Hazifotis for the heads-up, and to Malcolm Boutwell for the reminder.

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