RARA-AVIS: Joe Gores, Cases

From: William Denton ( wtd@pobox.com)
Date: 13 May 2006

I just finished CASES by Joe Gores, which is a surprisingly depressing book. I checked back in the archives and in July 2002 Karin Montin said about it, "The suspense was good, the characters interesting, but the tone is quite different from that of the two DKA novels featuring the Gypsies. Cases is about a guy getting hard boiled. The DKA crew is a bunch of tough guys, but the two stories are almost rollicking. In one of the intros, Gores says that he wanted to make it fun. Cases is not fun."

It certainly isn't. In the introduction Gores says that the lead character, Pierce Duncan (known as Dunc) is basically him. Dunc has just graduated from Notre Dame and sets out to knock around the country, enjoy life, and get experience that'll help him be a writer.

By the time he makes it to California he's been on a chain gang and gotten into a brawl in a Mexican whorehouse. He does some amateur detective work
(and gets beat up) and is noticed by a private detective, who hires him as a skip tracer. He handles some cases and marries the girl he met and fell in love with. That brief description does sound like what most people probably imagine Gores's life to be. (Except for the chain gang.)

Gores's DKA novels are fast-paced and fun, and I was expecting the same kind of thing in this book. It's fast-paced, and seems DKAish, but man, it doesn't have that wild fun running underneath it all. The conclusion is depressing.

Those of you who've read it: do you think it makes more sense at the end if you imagine Dunc not as Gores or his stand-in but as Dan Kearny?


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : www.miskatonic.org : www.frbr.org

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 May 2006 EDT