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Done for a Dime

David Corbett's first book, The Devil's Redhead, was hailed by critics as a searing work of suspense. Now, one of the hottest new names in modern crime fiction is back with a riveting and soulful new noir.

Done for a Dime
NEW! Now available in ebook format from Open Road Media/Mysterious Press
ack in the day, Raymond "Strong" Carlisle made his mark as an ace sideman blowing baritone sax alongside all the biggest names in R&B. Now he lies in the grass outside his home, shot dead from behind and pelted by the heedless rain that mingles with his own blood. He is the first official casualty of a dirty war being lethally waged for control of Rio Mirada: a low-rent "city in transition" of clashing subcultures at the northern tip of the San Francisco Bay, beset by drug dealers, arsonists, squatters . . . and now murder.

Detective Dennis Murchison—white, weary, home-grown—has two possible perps: Arlie Thigpen, a teenage lieutenant in the crack-and-smack army of a local dealer; Toby Marchand, a straight-arrow, old-school, jazz horn player with some big shoes to fill: those of his father, Strong Carlisle. The smart money says the shooter is Arlie, a two-time loser who tangled with Carlisle the day he died. But too many things about Toby—his shaky alibi, suspicion that he's not really who he claims to be, the fact that his girlfriend witnessed the killing but can't remember it—have Murch doing a double take.

Done for a Dime
They say there are three sides to the truth. But in Rio Mirada, honesty is in short supply. What's plentiful are people with angles, hidden agendas, and all the reasons in the world to make sure the murder of Strong Carlisle remains a mystery. And the harder Murchison pushes for answers, the clearer it becomes that this single, brutal homicide is just the tip of an inverted iceberg, casting its massive shadow over a town where small-time crime and big-time corruption are about to collide . . . with explosive consequences.

A harrowing, heartbreaking portrait of life on both sides of the law—and the grey place in between—Done for a Dime pays off powerfully on the promise of David Corbett as a writer to watch.

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Ballantine Books Hardcover, July 2003, ISBN-10: 0345447530, ISBN-13: 978-0345447531
Paperback reissue, June 2004, ISBN-10: 0449007154, ISBN-13: 978-0449007150


"A New Crime Boss... the brilliance of Done for a Dime announces an important new voice in crime fiction. [I]f you're looking for the best in contemporary crime fiction, this is it."
   —Washington Post

". . . one of the three or four best American crime novels I've ever read."
   —Patrick Anderson, Washington Post

"Dazzling . . . . seductive . . . . For all the lyricism of his narration and the compassion he shows his characters, [Corbett] never strays too far from the blunt vigor of California noir."
   —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review


Notable Book of the Year 2003

"The death of an old jazz musician, the axman for legends like Bobby Blue Bland and King Curtis, sounds the blue note of this dazzling novel, narrated in the blunt and vigorous idiom of California noir but full of compassion for marginal people whose rights are trampled upon by power brokers."
   —NEW YORK TIMES "Notable Book" Listing

Voted one of the Best Hardboiled and Noir

Best Pick of 2003
by Oline H. Cogdill
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Nominee, Best Novel
2003 Macavity Award

Mystery Readers International

"Corbett's second terrific mystery . . . . Corbett does people beautifully."
   —Chicago Tribune

"One of last year's best hard-boiled fiction debuts was David Corbett's The Devil's Redhead, a violent but redemptive thriller about an ex-con saving his former lover from a meth-dealing motorcycle gang that was nominated for an Edgar for Best First Novel. Now Corbett proves he was no one-hit wonder with Done for a Dime....While its plot of a community under siege from the forces of greed may take a page from Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest, it is more complex. The people of this town are not the salt of the earth standing up to evil capitalists; many of them have sown the seeds of their own destruction. With Done for a Dime Corbett has established himself as one of the hot new noir writers to watch."
   —The Flint (MI) Journal

"Author David Corbett avoids cliches in his affecting, multilayered Done for a Dime. Eschewing a series that is so popular in crime fiction, Corbett offers in-depth character studies, crisp dialogue and an encompassing look at a community... As he did in his excellent debut The Devil's Redhead, Corbett draws a compelling love story into the hard-boiled, gritty backdrop of Done for a Dime.... Corbett's fluid pace is enhanced by his elegant writing and his focus on characters. Corbett, who worked as a private investigator for 15 years before becoming an attorney, forces his characters to find forgiveness in an unforgiving world."
   —South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Corbett again uses . . . the traditional tools of genre fiction in bold new ways in his sharp and exceptionally poignant second novel."
   —Publishers Weekly

"Corbett follows his hard-hitting first novel, The Devil's Redhead, with more of the same: no-nonsense hard-boiled drama that takes formula beyond the comfort zone to a place where intensity of emotion overwhelms everything in its path . . . Corbett effectively combines a character-driven story about racism and missed connections with a surreal vision of a real-life fire next time, part disaster film, part James Baldwin."

"With breadth, depth and texture . . . this ambitious tale shows a murder exacerbating tensions between a jaded police force and a wary black community. . . . A resonant, relevant piece of contemporary fiction."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"Eschewing the 'hard-boiled' detectives and sociopathic killers that populate other crime novels, Done for a Dime presents almost a sociological study. Yet the book is character-driven, exploring complex relationships between father and son, boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, police officer and partner—and police officer and community."
   —The Columbus (OH) Dispatch

"[W]onderful, gritty . . . . Great for period styling, a glimpse of street life and what it is like to be a musician on the edge."
   —Contra Costa Times

"One of the best things that can happen to bibliophiles is to discover an author they've never heard of, but whose books will now be on their list of must-reads. David Corbett's books will forever be on my list.... Done for a Dime starts out sharp and never loses its edge as the action becomes more intense. Corbett doesn't blow a wrong note in what is one of the best police novels of the year. Each character who marches through these pages is believable and fascinating. Corbett's knowledge of police and the murky world they inhabit make this story a find. I won't want to miss his coming books."
   —Peter Mergendahl, Rocky Mountain News

"What's great about this book are Corbett's characterizations, which ring true across the many color lines of the Bay Area: blacks, whites, Latinos, Filipinas. And how he writes about musicians—he accurately references a number of area musicians, from Johnny Otis to John Lee Hooker, and pictures accurately how players who really care about music think about it. It's also an extraordinary police procedural, for its description of how and why detectives can become abusive when interviewing suspects and witnesses, a topic not often written about nearly as well as in Done for a Dime."
   —San Jose Mercury News

"Done for a Dime offers some of the grittiest, most realistic writing about crimes and investigation you're going to find on the shelves outside of the police station. Corbett covers not only the criminals and investigators, but also the victims and the accused. His insight into the important details of on-the-street investigation of crimes is stellar and riveting....
"In Done for a Dime, characters are king. Each is lovingly, carefully brought to life, with an inner passion that can't be faked. Every point of view that Corbett follows —and there are a lot of them—is a compelling, sensually enjoyable reading experience. Sex and violence are kept to a minimum. But there's angst, a sorrow, a joie de vivre that shines through each life like a beacon, a searchlight. You may not like everyone you meet in this book, but you'll feel as if you know them better than your best friends....
"Done for a Dime is riveting reading, informed by emotions so pure they hurt. The larger social themes inform and enrich the mystery but don't overrun it. Admirably terse, beautifully detailed, Done for a Dime is a success of contradictions. By being such a perfect genre novel, it transcends genre, and ends up being a great novel. It does an end run around itself scores outside its own boundaries. It plays the small game so well that it wins the big one."
   —Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column

"...[A] vast roar of a novel as packed with action, skullduggery, and human frailty as Macbeth and Hamlet combined . . . . Corbett is an exceptionally skilled and powerful writer. And his stunning word picture of the night an entire suburb goes up in flames makes most mystery novels pale by comparison . . . [R]ight up there with Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald."
   —Mystery Scene Magazine

"[Corbett] lays out a complicated investigation step by step, and the portrayal rings true. . . a very strong and solid crime novel that's worth the time of any serious fan of the genre."
   —Java Magazine

"... a tough, take-no-prisoners, hardboiled ride populated by convincing, shades-of-gray characters."
   —this week (Central Ohio)

"Done for a Dime is littered with greed, love, greed, revenge, deception, racism, and—did I mention?—greed. Fast, fun, and intense, this novel, like The Devil's Redhead, is bound to be a noir classic. Corbett's narrative is poetic and flowing, his dialogue crisp and real, the plotting tight and powerful. He is fast becoming one of my favorite authors."
   —Phillip Tomasso III, Curled Up With A Good Book

"David Corbett's story line is stark, gritty and totally believable. . . . . This is one police procedural it will be impossible to forget."
   —Harriet Klausner, AllReaders.com

"This book had me hooked from the title alone. Every character feels real. Corbett has the middle aged angst of policework down. Detective Dennis Murchison is one of the best drawn characters I've read recently and this in a year of some great books. . . . . With Done for a Dime David Corbett has become a seasoned veteran."
   —Dave Biemann, MysteryOne.com

"Corbett writes with authority and a sure hand, creating realistic characters in realistic situations . . . [He] is definitely a writer to watch."
   —Ted Hertel, Mystery News

"Here's a man who writes with his heart on his sleeve, daring to deepen and enrich the genre. Done for a Dime is shot through with a quality rare to crime fiction—compassion. It's what makes David Corbett such a soulful storyteller."
   —Eddie Muller, author of The Distance, Shadow Boxer and The Art of Noir

"Done for a Dime is even better than The Devil's Redhead. At once staccatto and melodic, it's tough as hell without sacrificing the tenderness that was at the heart of the first book. This one should put David Corbett into the front rank of American Crime writing, where he belongs."
   —Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest and The Walkaway


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