“Corbett delivers a rich, hard-hitting epic.”

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review

“The best in contemporary crime fiction—or in contemporary fiction, period.”

Washington Post


“Corbett, like Robert Stone and Graham Greene before him, is crafting important, immensely thrilling books.”

—George Pelecanos

“That rare beast: a work of popular fiction that is both serious and thrilling.”

—John Connolly


“The line runs through Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, straight on to David Corbett. I’m not kidding. He’s that good.”

—John Lescroart

“For all the lyricism of his narration and the compassion he shows, Corbett never strays too far from the blunt vigor of California noir.”

New York Times Book Review


“Corbett is the best of Quentin Tarantino and Elmore Leonard. Nobody writes crime fiction better.”

—Robert Dugoni

“Corbett handles his story line and subplots adroitly, in economical but polished prose, but his real strength is in character development.”


Done for a Dime

Back 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.

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.


New York Times Notable Book of the Year
2003 Best Novel Macavity Award nomiee
2003 Best Pick by Oline Cogdill, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“. . . 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

“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

“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.”
—Oline Cogdill, 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.”

“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

“…[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

“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.”
—Author Eddie Muller

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.”
—Author Scott Phillips

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