Dominic "Nick" Palladino (and Jane)

Created by Abby Robinson

Always a sucker for snappy graphics and well on my way to being totally hooked on detective fiction, I snapped up the paperback edition of The Dick and Jane (1985) back in the eighties, drawn in by its kitschy cover art and a slew of blurbs suggesting a light-hearted blend of P.I. drama and screwball romance.

And I pretty much got what they promised. Hell, I even enjoyed it.

Jane's a young professional, living in NYC and working as an art photographer, when her boyfriend, Hank, splits the scene, apparently for another woman.

Not quite sure where to turn, the motor-mouth shutter snapper partners up with DOMINIC PALLADINO, a cynical young private eye whose brusque manner and apparent disregard for grooming gets under Jane's skin. He's nobody's idea of handsome -- Jane thinks he's "a dead ringer for Ratso Rizzo, the sleazo character in Midnight Cowboy."

But surprise, surprise, what began as a simple snoop-and-scoop divorce case turns into a nasty mess involving cults, William Blake and more than its fair share of dead bodies. What really frightens Abby, however, is the discovery that "Nick the Dick" cleans up real nice...

It's a predictable enough romance, but Robinson has a fast and breezy style, and Jane, who narrates the story, has a snap-crackle line of pattter that keeps things pop-pop-popping along merrily. It's even sexy at times...

I liked the book way more than I thought I would, and I actually kept an eye out for a sequel or something else by the author, who was a photography instructor at New York's School of Visual Arts and claimed the book was based on her own experiences working for a private detective, but as far as I know, this was her only novel.



P.I. Romance Novels

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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