Gores, Joe 1931–

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Gores, Joe 1931–

(Joseph N. Gores, Joseph Nicholas Gores)


Born December 25, 1931, in Rochester, MN; son of Joseph Mathias (an accountant) and Mildred Dorothy Gores; married second wife, Dori Jane Corfitzen, May 16, 1976; children: Timothy, Gillian. Education: University of Notre Dame, A.B., 1953; Stanford University, M.A., 1961. Politics: Republican. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Skin diving, handball, weight lifting, hiking, African prehistory, travel.


Office—P.O. Box 446, Fairfax, CA 94978-0446. Agent—Henry Morrison, P.O. Box 235, Bedford Hills, NY 10507.


Writer. During early career worked variously as a hod carrier, laborer, logger, stock clerk, truck driver, carnival worker, and assistant motel manager; Floyd Page's Gymnasium, Palo Alto, CA, instructor, 1953-55; L.A. Walker Co., San Francisco, CA, private investigator, 1955-57, 1959; David Kikkert & Associates, San Francisco, private investigator, 1959-62, 1965-66; Kakamega Boys Secondary School, Kakamega, Kenya, East Africa, English teacher, 1963-64; Automobile Auction Co., San Francisco, manager and auctioneer, 1968-76; B.L. Stryker (television series), Universal/ABC, story editor, 1988-89; affiliated with DOJO, Inc., Fairfax, CA. Military service: U.S. Army, 1958-59.


Mystery Writers of America (secretary, 1966, 1968; vice president, 1967, 1969-70; member of board of directors, 1967-70, 1975-76; president, 1986), Private Eye Writers of America, Crime Writers Association, Writers Guild of America West.


Edgar Allan Poe Awards, Mystery Writers of America, for best first mystery novel, 1969, for A Time of Predators, for best mystery short story, 1969, for "Goodbye, Pops," and for best episode in a television dramatic series, 1975, for "No Immunity for Murder" episode of Kojak; Falcon Award for best hard-boiled mystery novel, Maltese Falcon Society of Japan, 1986, for Hammett.



A Time of Predators, Random House (New York, NY), 1969.

Interface, M. Evans (New York, NY), 1974.

Hammett, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.

Come Morning, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1986.

Wolf Time, Putnam (New York, NY), 1989.

Dead Man, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Menaced Assassin, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Cases, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Double-header, Crippen & Landru (Norfolk, VA), 2000.

Glass Tiger, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.


Dead Skip, Random House (New York, NY), 1972.

Final Notice, Random House (New York, NY), 1973.

Gone, No Forwarding, Random House (New York, NY), 1978.

32 Cadillacs (also see below), Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Contract Null and Void, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Stakeout on Page Street: And Other DKA Files (stories), Crippen & Landru (Norfolk, VA), 2001.

Cons, Scams, and Grifts, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2001.


(With Arthur M. Kaye) Force Twelve, 1971.

(With Arthur M. Kaye) Game without Rules, 1972.

Interface, Cinema Entertainment, 1974.

Deadfall, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1976.

Hammett, Warner Bros., 1982.

Paper Crimes, P.E.A./United Artists, 1978.

Paradise Road, Paramount, 1978.

Golden Gate Memorial (television film), Universal, 1978.

Come Morning, 1980.

A Wayward Angel, Solofilm/United Artists, 1981.

(With Kevin Wade) Cover Story, Columbia, 1985.

Gangbusters, Botfilm Productions, 1989.

32 Cadillacs (based on Gores's novel), Fox, 1996.


Marine Salvage (nonfiction), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1971.

(Editor) Honolulu: Port of Call (anthology), Comstock (Ithaca, NY), 1974.

(Editor, with Bill Pronzini) Tricks and Treats (anthology), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.

Mostly Murder (collection), Mystery Scene Press, 1992.

Speak of the Devil: 14 Tales of Crimes and Their Punishments, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1999.

Contributor of scripts to television series, including Kojak, Eischeid, Kate Loves a Mystery, The Gangster Chronicles, Strike Force, T.J. Hooker, Mike Hammer, Remington Steele, Scene of the Crime, Eye to Eye, Hell Town, B.L. Stryker, and Magnum, P.I. Contributor to anthologies, including Mystery Writers of America Annual Anthology, Boucher's Choicest, and Best Detective Stories of the Year. Contributor of stories and articles to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Argosy, Adam, and Negro Digest.


Crime novelist and television writer Joe Gores writes hard-boiled detective fiction, which he is particularly qualified for since he was a private detective in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s. Gores once told Writer's Digest interviewer James McKimmey that he credits the reports he had to write as a private detective with teaching him the "essentials of good storytelling." Early in his writing career, Gores concentrated on short stories, and cites his influences as Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, and Raymond Chandler. The winner of several Edgar Allan Poe awards, Gores's works include novels, television scripts, screenplays, and short stories.

One of Gores's best known novels, Hammett, sets the real-life detective and mystery writer Dashiell Hammett in a fictional murder case in 1928. While Hammett is separated from his wife and finishing up the novel Red Harvest, a former Pinkerton colleague is murdered, and Hammett is drawn into the investigation. A writer for the New York Times Book Review appreciated Gores's "evocative picture of San Francisco in 1928—with its beauty, its venality, its dirty cops and politicians."

In Come Morning former convict Runyan tries to keep an insurance investigator from finding the diamonds he stole eight years earlier. Complicating his post-prison life are a murderous gangster, Runyan's partner in the crime, and a beautiful author—all of whom are hot on the trail of the stolen diamonds. In his Washington Post Book World review of the novel, Lawrence Block called Gores "one of the better-kept secrets in crime fiction." Brian Garfield described Come Morning in the Chicago-Sun Times as being a novel by an author who has matured, who "has absolute control of his material: the book inspires a chill on the back of the neck—the short hairs are raised by a thrill of confidence that we are in the hands of a master who knows."

Gores added humor to his repertoire with 32 Cadillacs. As the supposed king of the gypsy nation lies dying in small-town Iowa, a power struggle ensues to see who will be the next to claim the title. The dying king, by tradition, is allowed to choose his successor. When the parties vying to be chosen find out that the dying king's wish is to be buried in a pink Cadillac convertible, various schemes are hatched to repossess pink Cadillacs from Daniel Kearny Associates (DKA)—a firm central to many of Gores's novels. DKA attempts to squash the highjinks as the gypsies try to outdo each other's cons. New York Times Book Review critic Marilyn Stasio called 32 Cadillacs "a fall-down-funny account of how the gypsies and the repo men lock wits and bump fenders over that fleet of hot cars."

In Cons, Scams, and Grifts, the repo men of DKA again encounter the gypsies from 32 Cadillacs. The action features a large cast of characters who are involved in a quest to find Yana, a gypsy witch. She is wanted in connection with her husband's murder in which he was gunned down while picking tourists' pockets while dressed as a bear. DKA is hired to find her, but they quickly become sidetracked, hunting down the treasure supposedly hidden in her mansion known as Xanadu. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the book a "caper novel, murder mystery, [and] encyclopedia of con games."

Gores's standalone books include Menaced Assassin, a thriller in which film executive Molly Dalton is executed mob style after linking her boss to organized crime. Her paleoanthropologist husband, Will, withdraws into his study of sexuality and violence among apes, but because he may also know of Molly's discovery, San Francisco detective Dante Stagnoro fears that he may be the next victim. "In his latest, Gores demonstrates masterful narrative sleight-of-hand," concluded a Publishers Weekly contributor.

The protagonist of Glass Tiger is former ranger and CIA operative Brendan Thorne. After experiencing a personal tragedy, Thorne seeks a more serene existence as the only white guard at a Kenyan hunting resort for the wealthy. The U.S. government has him arrested on false charges in order to bring him back to America, where President Gustav Wallberg asks him to stop former Vietnam sniper Halden Corwin from killing him. The two men knew each other years before, and Corwin killed his own daughter and her husband because he believed they tried to kill him on orders from Wallberg. Ultimately, Thorne learns that he can trust no one, including his president, as he discovers the truth about the country's leader, Corwin, and Corwin's female companion, Janet Kestrel. J.B. Thompson reviewed the action novel for Reviewing the Evidence, commenting: "Gores' writing is clear and eloquent, with vibrant but not effusive descriptions, fast-paced action and intellectual dialogue. He moves the plot forward at breakneck speed without wasting a single word." Thompson added that "the ease with which Gores delivers his stunning final blow is nothing short of spectacular."

In the semi-autobiographical novel Cases, Gores writes in the book's preface that he has "tried to mix fact and fiction so thoroughly that nobody—not even myself—can now untangle them." The book's protagonist, Pierce Duncan, is a fresh-from-college private detective and aspiring author in 1950s San Francisco. Duncan takes a journey of discovery through the American landscape, hitting such highlights as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Georgia, and Texas, and moves from literary wanna-be to hard-boiled detective in the process. Bill Ott conceded in Booklist that the tale "is a bit disjointed," but added that the portrait of "the fledgling gumshoe, learning the ropes as his skin thickens, is awash in vivid detail." Noting Gores's nods to Hemingway and Hammett within the narrative, Bob Lunn wrote in Library Journal that Cases is "a fast-paced, raunchy yarn glowing with nostalgia."

Gores once told CA: "I entered college thinking I wanted to be a cartoonist in a Milton Caniff-Hal Foster mode. But I soon realized I was intrigued by storytelling, so I quit drawing and started writing short stories, averaging three hundred rejection slips a year until my first sale (to Manhunt for sixty-five dollars) four years after graduation. It was only years later, when I added film and TV to the novel and the short story, that I realized I had come full circle: I was back to telling stories in words and pictures.

"In 1968, Lee Wright of Random House wrote that if I ever wanted to write a novel she'd probably want to publish it. I immediately wrote A Time of Predators, Wright published it, and it won an Edgar. In 1974, Jack Laird, supervising producer of Kojak, wrote that if I ever wanted to write a Kojak episode, he'd probably want to buy it. I immediately wrote "No Immunity for Murder," Laird bought it, and it won an Edgar. I seem to keep backing into my career moves.

"While living in Africa I read Robert Ardrey's African Genesis, and a few years later Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. From these I came to understand what my basic fictional theme was: A hero who has been stripped of society's defenses must overcome danger and death armed only with the genetic survival skills inherited from his prehuman ancestors." Gores more recently added: "My 1994 novel, Menaced Assassin, addresses these concerns directly; while it is about a hit man, the spine of the book is a speech about the nature of human violence being made by the man the killer plans to make his final victim. It is the only novel I have written to which I felt it appropriate to append a bibliography."

Gores continued: "Writing is all I do and all I want to do. I try to write every day but don't always make it—travel, for instance, makes the work schedule disappear."



Booklist, November 15, 1998, Bill Ott, review of Cases, p. 572; October 1, 2006, Wes Lukowsky, review of Glass Tiger, p. 40.

Chicago-Sun Times, March 2, 1986, Brian Garfield, review of Come Morning.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2000, review of Stakeout on Page Street: And Other DKA Files, p. 1723; August 15, 2006, review of Glass Tiger, p. 811.

Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Bob Lunn, review of Cases, p. 125; July, 2001, Bob Lunn, review of Cons, Scams, and Grifts, p. 310.

New York Times Book Review, November 9, 1975, review of Hammett; December 20, 1992, Marilyn Stasio, review of 32 Cadillacs.

Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1993, review of Dead Man, p. 71; August 22, 1994, review of Menaced Assassin, p. 44; May 13, 1996, review of Contract Null and Void, p. 58; October 19, 1998, review of Cases, p. 58; July 2, 2001, review of Cons, Scams, and Grifts, p. 56; August 28, 2006, review of Glass Tiger, p. 34.

Times Literary Supplement, October 10, 1975, review of Hammett, p. 1174.

Washington Post Book World, March 2, 1986, Lawrence Block, review of Come Morning.

Writer's Digest, August, 1988, James McKimmey, "Joe Gores," interview with the author, pp. 31-35.


Reviewing the Evidence,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (May 20, 2007), J.B. Thompson, review of Glass Tiger.

Thrilling Detective Online,http://www.thrillingdetective.com/ (May 20, 2007), brief biography of Joe Gores.