Title: Dirty Who? (Johnny O’Rorke Book 2) by Jerry Kennealy
Genre: Currently #11870 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Thrillers, Crime
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Publication Date: July 9, 2018 Happy Release Day!
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Dirty Who? Cover perfectly portrays content of book
I’ve touched on the subject of the “hardboiled” genre of mystery-thrillers before, and here is a perfect example–even to the iconic profile of Sinatra.
SFPD Inspector Johnny O’Rorke, the Executive Protection Officer (for visiting dignitaries) is the go-to man when Film Commissioner Audrey Pebble contacts him regarding the missing musician she hired to scout the city for location sites for a possible major motion picture. The mayor is hot to make sure the film is staged in San Francisco and Warner Brothers is looking to star Frank Sinatra in the part of Inspector Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry. Pebble is aware of O’Rorke’s affiliation with Sinatra, who worked as his bodyguard, and knows Sinatra is coming to town for a big show locally and in (Lake) Tahoe. She had hired Harly Walker but he’s disappeared, making her extremely nervous regarding her lack of local sites to present to the actor and Warner Brothers for their consideration.
At the same time, he is saddled with his sister’s little Lakeland terrier, Cosmo the Wonder Dog, who is indeed living up to his name. Cosmo becomes quite the celebrity wherever O’Rorke goes and eventually proves very valuable–fully justifying his food, treats, and keep.
The setting in 1970 San Francisco is at the height of the hippies and the city is buzzing with violence, drugs, and porn studios. The search for the missing musician leads to a possible serial killer situation when it is discovered he isn’t the only gay gone missing lately with somewhat the same background of contacts. O’Rorke knows his way around San Francisco and has an extensive network of sources and resources.
Although this is the second in the series, it functions well as a standalone novel. The author often injects knowledgeable tidbits about buildings, sites, prominent citizens, and the culture of the time. He frequently notes the limitations when describing police procedurals of the time which took a giant leap, for instance, when DNA use became standard.
I loved his descriptions of Sinatra and later took an opportunity to further research his life, some of which I found surprising. The anecdotes regarding celebrities including Forrest Tucker, Milton Berle, and Marilyn Monroe were a hoot and along with a nostalgic look of the Fairmont Hotel was just way too much fun.
O’Rorke cruises the famous Haight-Ashbury district on his investigation and discovers a down and dirty world in the underbelly of SF most people would find to be TMI. Be aware of some language and descriptions from the medical examiner that are gut-twisting. While some accounts are kept fairly brief, your imagination will supply the rest.
Periphery support characters are developed and engaging and there are dark-humored bits scattered throughout. It’s fast-paced and never goes dull. The protagonist is the perfect hardboiled officer and knows how to handle (most) any situation. He’s smart, capable, and quick, and he doesn’t need to carry a .44 Magnum. The dog adds entertainment and interest, though there were a few times I cringed at some of the food (and drink) he was given. The conclusion is smooth and satisfying.
I thoroughly enjoyed this romp back in the tumultuous seventies: hippies, ‘Nam protests, rock bands, Joplin, Western and ballad singers, muscle cars. The authors writing style is quick-witted and sassy. This read like a Dirty Harry movie and the only thing missing was, “Do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?” Or the iconic, “Go Ahead…Make my day.” Thank heavens Sinatra DIDN’T get that part!
I received this uncorrected ARC download from the publisher and NetGalley and was thrilled to get the opportunity to read and review. Heartily recommended for any who enjoy mystery, thriller and suspense, police procedurals, and crime novels. You don’t have to be in a nostalgic mood to enjoy as you will be when you finish this book. My only problem was the edit misses and I’m quite sure they will have been addressed prior to release. Check out this book–you’ll be glad you did!
Rosepoint Publishing: 4.5 BIG Stars
The Author: (From Amazon Jerry Kennealy (no pic available/no author page) has worked as a San Francisco policeman and as a licensed private investigator in the City by the Bay. He has written twenty-two novels, including a series on private eye Nick Polo, two of which were nominated for a Shamus Award. His books have been published in England, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Spain. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Private Eye Writers of America. He was the recipient of the 2017 Life Achievement Award by the Private Eye Writers of America.
Jerry lives in San Bruno, California, with his wife and in-house editor, Shirley.
©2018 V Williams (Lakeland terrier photo attribution: Cinco – petmd.com)