Monday, March 25, 2024

Off the Books by Dana King Virtual Book Tour


Dana King

I am sometimes asked why I write private eye fiction, as it is not the dominant sub-genre it used to be. There are several reasons.

First and probably most important, PI fiction is what I cut my reading teeth on. Encyclopedia Brown, The Thinking Machine, then, of course, Sherlock Holmes. As I grew up I discovered Mickey Spillane and Robert B. Parker. Even now four of the twelve authors on the list of those I try never to let more than  a year go past without reading are PI writers: Lawrence Block, Ken Bruen, Loren Estleman, and James D.F. Hannah. Of the twenty-four writers I try never to let more than two years go without reading, seven write PIs: Raymond Chandler, Robert Crais, James Crumley, James Ellroy (the early works), Dashiell Hammett (currently working my way through all the Continental Op stories), Dennis Lehane, and Walter Mosley. I’m a PI guy from way back.

As a writer, while I love multiple points of view where the reader knows more than any single character, it’s rewarding to spend the entire book in one person’s head. There are things I can do with first-person point of view that can’t be done as well any other way. There are limitations, as well; the reader can’t know anything the protagonist doesn’t. That can be fun to work around, too.

What might be the biggest reason I keep coming back to private eyes is I feel, when done right, it is the most elevated form of crime fiction. The history of the genre traces its roots back to Edgar Allan Poe, and the stories that put crime fiction on the map in this country are dominated by private eyes.

Bouchercon 2008 was held in Baltimore; I had not yet been published. The brilliant Irish author Declan Hughes moderated a panel where he gave an impassioned tribute to the glories of private investigator stories as the highest level of crime fiction. By the time he finished I was not just committed to the form, I was proud to be a practitioner. I wish I had a transcript of his comments.

I also write police procedurals; the PI stories fill a different niche. Cops have to take whatever cases present themselves; PIs can cherry pick a little. (At least fictional ones can.) Because the cases come in faster than cops can handle them, police detectives focus on closing files while private investigators can look for closure.

Another thing that draws me back is my membership in the Private Eye Writers of America. PWA is a group of true believers where I always feel comfortable, whether I am working on a private eye novel at the time or not. The organization is tireless in representing the interests of the genre and its practitioners, but in a low-key way I never find off-putting. Having earned two Shamus Award nominations didn’t hurt my dedication to the genre, either. I have mixed emotions about awards, but it’s always nice to be validated by one’s peers.

Off the Books is my sixth Nick Forte novel. The outline for the seventh is almost complete; extensive sketches exist for Book Eight. I’ll write him as long as the ideas keep coming. They do not seem to be ready to stop.

Hard-boiled Private Investigator

Nick Forte has lost his detective agency and makes ends meet doing background checks and other paperwork. He pays for everything else through jobs he takes for cash and without any written contract. What starts out as a simple investigation into a traffic accident exposes Forte to people who have truly lost everything and have no viable hope of reclaiming their lives. That doesn’t sit well with Forte, leading him and his friend Goose Satterwhite to take action that ends more violently than anyone expected.

“The return of Chicago private detective Nick Forte, the tough protagonist of two Shamus Award nominated novels, is well worth the wait. Nick’s latest escapade Off The Books—the first in nearly six years—will surely earn additional praise for the acclaimed series.”

-J.L .Abramo, Shamus Award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Chan.

"Nick Forte reminds me of Robert B. Parker's Spenser: a PI with a finely tuned sense of justice who doesn't take anyone's s***. Any fan of hardboiled detective fiction is in for a helluva ride."

--Chris Rhatigan, former publisher of All Due Respect Books

I told Jason Worthington I’d find his daughter in a week. I surfed the internet and searched flophouses, cathouses, bar rooms, pool rooms, jails, hospitals, morgues, and SRO hotels. Found her in a pay-by-the-hour motel at 10:48 p.m. two days after her father and I spoke.

Worthington would have preferred me to find her alive.

Cindy’s body was warm, the spike still in her arm. She looked as if she’d fallen asleep waiting and didn’t hold my tardiness against me.

I did what any real-life professional investigator would do, and what no fictional private eye would even consider. 

I called the police.

The cops kept me at the scene half the night, at the station until dawn. They asked the same questions both places and got the same answers.

“Why were you there?”

“Her father asked me to find her.”

“Why was the father looking for her?”

“My guess would be to keep what happened from happening. You’ll have to ask him yourself to be sure.”

The usual bullshit.

I called Worthington on my way out of the police station. Told him I had news but would prefer to deliver it in person. I didn’t suppose I needed to tell him anything after that, but it wouldn’t hurt to allow him time to prepare before I scarred the rest of his life.

He answered the door already dressed for work. Navy suit, white shirt with French cuffs, gold links. His tie was blue with small designs, maybe horses, gathered in a perfect four-square knot. Red suspenders. A suit coat hung from the newel post behind him. His forehead gleamed beneath a silvery hairline. His teeth were as white and straight as a Klan meeting.

Off the Books is Dana King’s sixth Nick Forte private investigator novel. Two of the earlier books (A Small Sacrifice and The Man in the Window) received Shamus Award nominations from the Private Eye Writers of America. Dana also writes the Penns River series of police procedurals set in a small Western Pennsylvania town, as well as one standalone novel, Wild Bill, which is not a Western. His short fiction appears in numerous anthologies and web sites. He is a frequent panelist at conferences and reads at Noirs at Bars from New York to North Carolina. 



One Bite at a Time





Dana King will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner.


  1. Good morning, everyone, and thanks to Momma for hosting. I hope you enjoy my post today. I'll pop in from time to time through the day to check comments, so if you have any questions please leave them here and I promise to get back to you.

  2. OFF THE BOOKS by Dana King is a gritty, hard-boiled private investigator tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's filled with intense action and a gripping plot that you won't want to put down. Happy reading!

    1. Thank you, Edgar. I'd blush but I'm too hard-boiled for that.

  3. Sounds like a really good story. I enjoyed the excerpt.

  4. Great excerpt and giveaway. :)

  5. Thank you, Mr./Ms. March. Or may I call you W?

  6. Nice cover and this looks like a good read

    1. Thanks, Sherry. I'll pass along your comments about the cover to The Beloved Spouse, as she does my covers.

  7. Thanks for stopping by. The book is free to read if you have Kindle Unlimited.

  8. This looks awesome! Thanks for hosting this tour.


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