Dana King

GENRE:  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

Enjoy an Excerpt:


I first saw him standing under the “employees only” sign near the exit to the truck service bays. Early twenties, a little under average height, short blond hair. Caroline was unaware of him, focused as she was on a three-way text conversation with her friends Maria and Arielle.

The next time the kid caught my attention he was half as far away, standing where the food court opened into the convenience store. I only noticed him this time because I recognized him, and he was the only Love’s employee on the floor. His name was Jimmy, and he was definitely looking our direction. 

I’m an old-school father with an only child. A daughter, no less. My primary purpose in life was to make sure no one messed with her. Everything else—work, food, clothing, mortgage payments, staying out of prison—comes after. Jimmy hadn’t done anything wrong, but the Dadar had activated.

All fathers think their daughters are beautiful; I had empirical evidence. If the steady stream of boys circling the periphery of her life looking for an in wasn’t enough, I once overheard another kid in the band describe her to a friend as the “archetype of virginal beauty.” (What can I say? Magnet school.)

The next time I caught sight of Jimmy he stood three feet behind Caroline, checking her out with rapt attention. I sidled over, using my best stealth technique. He never saw me coming until I leaned in close and spoke in my most quietly menacing voice. “She’s thirteen years old.”

Jimmy evaporated faster than a snowflake in a  microwave..

I still got it.

About the Author:

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. 

Q&A With the Author: 

What was your inspiration for writing this book? 

The simple answer is, it had been six years since I wrote a Nick Forte story and I missed him, so I started casting about for ideas to suit his character. Forte had become successively darker in each of the first five novels, and I wanted to explore that by transposing him from a Spenser/Elvis Cole type to more like Ray Donovan. A shady client who could lead Forte into an ever-worsening situation seemed a logical way to go. It was also time to get him out of his comfort zone in Chicago, so I moved large parts of this story down state. Knowing I was looking for a hook, The Beloved Spouse sent me an article on human trafficking. I read it and knew right away what the book would be about on a grander level.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Hanging out with Nick, his daughter Caroline, and his friend Goose Satterwhite. While Forte’s dark side shows more in the recent books, he’s still a doting father and a world-class smartass. Watching him interact with Caroline, Goose, and whoever else he meets in a book is always great fun for me and probably the main reason I keep coming back to him.


Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about? 

I’m in the midst of polishing my first Western and I’m happy with how it is going. It’s a novel posing as a memoir and I’ve had a ball with it. I also have the outline for the next Nick Forte book almost done : Forte’s ex’s boyfriend owes money to the wrong people and the creditors aren’t fussy about threatening people close to the debtor. Farther out, I have substantial notes for another Forte after that.

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future? 

Lots. In addition to the Western and the two Forte books I mentioned earlier, I’m gathering research for the final three books in my Penns River series of police procedurals that take place in a small Western Pennsylvania city. I also have ideas for a comic heist novel, or maybe not so comic. My books have been known to change character as I develop them. I’m also not ruling out another Western, and there are two buddy characters who keep asking for attention I mean to get to as soon as I can find a suitable situation for them. I retired from my day job a few years ago and since then ideas that interest me have been coming faster than I can keep up with them.

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

First, thank you, both for stopping by today and for reading in general, whether it’s my books or someone else’s. Writing is a lonely occupation and would be pointless without readers. I don’t think most readers understand how much the authors they enjoy appreciate the time and money you spend on us, especially those with a somewhat smaller footprint in the industry, such as myself. Most avid readers are introverts, as are most writers. That trait tends to limit interaction, so never be bashful about approaching one of your favorites, or someone new you might see at a conference or other event. Observe common courtesy, of course, but you may be surprised to find crime fiction writers are as approachable and welcoming as anyone you’re likely to meet.



One Bite at a Time






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  1. Thank you for featuring today's author on your site.

  2. "Hard-boiled Private Investigator" sounds good to me.

    1. I've always had a soft spot for them. I hope you'll give it a try.

  3. Good morning and thanks for hosting my book. I'll be around all day and will be happy to answer any questions readers might have, so feel free to fire away.

  4. Good morning, everyone. I apologize if this appears twice. I left a comment but did not see it. I'll be around through the day and will be happy to answer any questions, so fire away.

  5. I enjoyed the excerpt and the interview. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I like the cover. Looks good. Sounds like an intriguing story.

    1. I will notify The Beloved Spouse. She does all my covers.

  7. If I could do things over I would have become a PI. Looking forward to reading.

  8. The book sounds very interesting

  9. Super interesting genre! Nice to read about detective work.

  10. Nick sounds like an interesting character! I’m anxious to read his stories.

  11. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the excerpt ! :)


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