32 Cadillacs by Joe Gores (Crime Novel, 1992).
I’ve been reviewing mostly recent publications of late, but what the heck–this is MY blog and I can review whatever I want. This one’s new to me, folks. Besides, even older and out-of-print/used books are easy enough to track down these days. Sooooo this time out I’m reviewing a lighthearted hardboiled crime epic from the late Joe Gores.
This one is a rollicking adventure with lots of colorful characters, beginning with the flamboyant and aggressively un-PC staff of Daniel Kearny Associates (the DKA for short). This ethnically mixed bag of folks is a detective agency specializing in bringing cars back to their rightful owners. In real life, Gores worked for a similar outfit, though one doubts the real repo crew was quite as smart-mouthed and deliciously roguish. Anyway, this was the fourth novel in the series. Gore won Edgar Awards in three different categories (Best First Novel, Best Short Story and Best TV Series Episode) in his career. This one also got him a nomination, for Best Novel
This time out, they’re tasked with recovering 32 expensive Cadillacs that rival bands of Gypsies just stole in and around San Francisco. It seems the King of all the Gypsies has taken a fall and is in a small mid-western hospital, about to die. His last request is to be buried in a fancy vehicle like the one he rode to his coronation in, way back when–and the Gypsy who supplies it will be named the old guy’s successor.
The leaders of the two Bay area groups (one male, the other female) are both determined to become the next ruler of the whole ‘Gyppo’ Nation in the US. Of course, in the meantime they’re also busy with other con-games–as well as trying to avoid (or at least manipulate and dupe) the DKA crew and double-cross one another.
Nobody here is 100% true-blue honest, but everyone (the corrupt yet charming Gypsies included) is fun to read about. The sheer joy with which the Gypsies steal is matched by the joy the DKA bunch shows in stealing things back from them. There’s all sorts of double-dealing, competition between individuals as well as groups, sexual hijinks and–while there’s adventuresome violence aplenty–nobody gets killed.
I should note that this is a crime story with definite procedural aspects (both on how the con-jobs work and especially repo tactics)–but it’s not really a ‘mystery’–the reader sees what all the characters are up to, with one exception–a twist at the very end that, given what’s come before, shouldn’t be a total surprise.
It’s a grand, high-stakes game from beginning to end and, assuming you’re okay with some dated references and attitudes (repeat: The Politically Correct best shy away; this one isn’t for you), it’s quite enjoyable.