Dave Garrett

Created by Neil Albert

DAVE GARRETT is a disbarred lawyer turned Philadelphia private eye, not exactly setting the world on fire. He drives a Honda Civic with more than a few years and miles on it, and he owns two guns, although he confesses he’s never really had to use either. His disbarment is, likewise, not the result of any sort of high drama but simply a rather sad set of circumstances and poor judgment -- he got caught trying to take his wife’s final law exam (she suffered from anxiety attacks). So he lost his job... and eventually his wife.

Despite all of this -- or perhaps because of it -- Dave’s become a man of principle, an obsessively honest, decent guy working as a detective, intent on doing the right thing. Oh, he’s still willing to bend a few small rules, if he has to. But he tries to keep his word, and he’s uncommonly loyal to his clients; and his small, one-man agency has thus earned a good reputation in Philadelphia law circles.

And the first novel, 1991's The January Corpse, has got to be one of the most memorable private eye novels of the nineties I've come across, with one hell of a corkscrew ending. But the whole series is well worth reading. Fans of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer and Stephen Greenleaf's John Marshall Tanner in particular will be impressed. An excellent series; intelligent, provocative, literate.


  • "I own all six Dave Garrett books, have read each one many times over. There are some authors I reread frequently: Jane Austen, Ross MacDonald, Agatha Christie, Wordsworth, and Neil Albert. It doesn't matter that I know how Albert's books end. What matters is how they get there, and how he paints each scene, each conversation, with a reality that bites and soothes at the same time. Dave Garrett moves through his world with a bitterness overlaid with compassion that was striking the first time, and gets more so with each reread. The plots are reality-based yet erudite enough to thrill a poet. The only flaw in this series is that there are no July, August, September, October, November and December books."

-- Bonnie Montgomery, from The Rap Sheet


  • In Tangled June (1997), the final book in the series, the Philadelphia P.I. needs some background work done in LA and contacts Les Roberts' writer and sometime gumshoe Saxon for help. 



This piece from May 2008, which appeared in The Rap Sheet, pays tribute to one of my favourite "forgotten" novels, in response to a challenge from Patti Abbott.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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