Frank "Lobo" Davies

Created by James Jones

LOBO's a "hard-nosed private detective with fire in his eyes," as he mockingly refers to himself, from New York City, getting on in years (he's almost fifty!!!), still smarting from a recent divorce, who finds himself in on the Greek island of Tsatsos, up to his eyeballs in blackmail, drugs, hippies and that good old stand-by: murder.

Author Jones is probably a wee bit better known as the big shot "literary" writer who penned From Here To Eternity, although this one-shot attempt at detective fiction isn't too shabby at all. And Jones freely admitted his debt to Chandler and Hammett in the writing of it.

The book started out as an idea Jones had for a screenplay, but Jones then reconsidered. "I realized if I did the screenplay first I would have difficulty getting the novel published except as a paperback," Jones said. So he dumped the screenplay, and concentrated on turning the story into a novel, completing it in about six months -- not exactly a land speed record, but pretty quick for a plodder like Jones.

There's very little suggestion, however, that Jones viewed the book as a slumming exercise or simply as a way to make a quick buck. Many of the themes in the book were reflected in Jones' own life at the time -- he too was pushing fifty, and, recently returned to the U.S. after years of living in Europe, he was also experiencing growing frustration with American foreign policy and particularly the Vietnam War. so perhaps it's no surprise that Jones became very involved in the editing process, arguing vigorouslly with the copy editors, rewriting the dust jacket copy himself and even worming his way into discussions about the design of the dust jacket.

Whatever his intentions or personal investment, though, the book failed to set the world on fire, and rumoured sequels never materialized. It was generally viewed by the literary community as solid escapist fare, but nothing special -- or anything to be taken too seriously.

UNDER OATH

  • "James Jones gives you a lot of groceries for your money. Not from the gourmet shop--just plain, hearty, belly-filling fare."

-- Anatole Broyard in The New York Times

  • "(Touch of Danger is) notable because it extends the cynical view of youthful revolutionaries in The Merry Month of May into a full-scale put-down of the hippies who inhabit the island [where the action of the novel takes place]."

-- Jeffrey Helterman in Dictionary of Literary Biography

NOVELS

RELATED LINKS

Famous Writers Who Have Dipped Their Toes in the P.I. Pool

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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