Like fellow mystery writer and hard-boiled pioneer Dashiell Hammett, Joe Gores is one of a handful of authors who has actually worked as a private investigator. He worked for a dozen years during the 1950’s and 1960’s in San Francisco—the same city where Hammett worked—at agencies specializing in skip tracing, repossessions, and embezzlement and insurance investigations. Gores immensely enjoyed detective work and from the beginning kept extensive case notes that he has mined for material ever since. His initial Dan Kearney & Associates (DKA) file short story, “The Mayfield Case,” appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1967.
Gores’s work has received critical acclaim from his first novel, A Time of Predators (1969), which won an Edgar Award. He also received Edgar Awards for best short story for “Goodbye, Pops” and for best episode in a television series for “No Immunity for Murder.” Two other novels, Come Morning (1986) and Thirty-two Cadillacs (1992), were also nominated for Edgar Awards, and Gores has received the Japanese Maltese Falcon Award. However, he has experienced considerably more commercial success from script writing than from novel writing. Gores has served as secretary, vice president, president, and on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America.
The first DKA file novel, Dead Skip, was published in 1972. Expanding on the format of Hammett’s Continental Op stories, Gores follows the activities of many DKA detectives individually and collectively as they pursue subjects and the solutions to questions such as What really happened? Who did it? What punishment fits the crime? Gores’s nonseries novels likewise often revolve around similar investigative techniques as employed by goal-oriented amateurs and professionals seeking answers to specific questions.