Long before there was Alex Cross their was Carver Bascombe an African American Bay Area based private eye. A Vietnam veteran with an MP background. Bascombe is a lover of art and a student working his way through law school. His cases involve the arts in San Francisco
Kenn Davis was born as Kenneth Allan Schmoker in Salinas, California. After his parents divorced, he moved with his mother and brother to San Francisco at age five. He attended grammar school in San Francisco. He went finger painting and to drawing classes on Saturdays at the San Francisco Museum of Art, today’s San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. At age 10, at the beginning of WWII, Kenn and his brother attended a catholic boy school in Marin County, a boarding school. At the end of the war, Kenn and his brother moved back to their mother and step father, Henry Davis, who bought him his first easel. Kenn changed his surname to his step father’s name. (His brother changed his name to Zekial Marko and became a mystery author under the name John Trinian.) Kenn attended City College of San Francisco before being drafted to the Korean War in 1952. He left the military in 1954 and returned to study art at the City College of San Francisco. In 1956 he transferred to the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1964, he was hired by the San Francisco Chronicle as photo retoucher and illustrator, a position from which he resigned in 1984.
Davis formed a collaboration with Chronicle entertainment writer John Stanley to co-author the 1976 Avon paperback “The Dark Side,” a San Francisco-based mystery featuring black private eye Carver Bascombe. Nominated for the Edgar Award, the book was followed by seven more Bascombe mysteries, written solely by Davis. One of those novels, “Melting Point,” was nominated for the Shamus Award in 1986.
Faster than Sherlock Holmes, Higher than Superfly, Handsomer than inspector Poirot – It’s Carver Bascombe in his first adventure.
1979 – The Forza Trap
Talent and money, artists and patrons, agents and impresarios, music and drama – it was all coming together in the glittering gala opening of the Golden Gate Opera House. Or it was until rehearsals became tryouts for murder. Carver Bascombe was a private eye who did everything with style, and playing bodyguard to a sexy opera star was his idea of work. But style wasn’t going to be enough to keep this job from being his swan song as a sex-crazed assassin and a bizarre terrorist cult invisibly orchestrate a deadly drama. The houselights dim, the overture begins, the curtain rises, as Bascombe blasts his way through a violent libretto of vengeance, deceit, and betrayal to an explosive backstage finale where he has the solo.
1984 – Words Can Kill
One murdered writer in a California town. Four very suspect fellow authors. An undetermined number of faceless killers. And one highly menacing sea lion. Enter Carver Bascombe: Black, lean, Vietnam vet, and coolly professional with a steady gun hand and unlimited nerve.
1986 – Melting Point
Nervously awaiting the results of his California bar exam, Carver Bascombe comes to the aid of a shooting victim, the eleven-year-old daughter of an old friend, a missing sculptor
1987 – Nijinsky Is Dead
Private detective Carver Bascombe is hired by San Francisco ballet star Joel Burck, who is convinced someone is out to kill him, and stumbles into a bizarre web of jealousy, international intrigue, and murder
1987 – As October Dies
When three paintings are stolen from her private collection, Agnes Trevillion hires detective Carver Bascombe to investigate her art curator, Jordan Kooby, but the case takes a lethal turn when Kooby turns up dead
1989 – Acts of Homicide
Byron Kean’s new play is sure to become a modern classic, just the thing that will save his family’s financially troubled theater company – if it ever is performed. When money disappears from the theater’s account, Kean hires Carver Bascombe to investigate. Suddenly, Sarah Lemoyne, a young accountant and aspiring actress in the company, is brutally murdered. So Bascombe takes a look behind the footlights – where he finds fading careers, fragile egos, and hot tempers. Everyone is an actor – and one of them is a killer
1990 – Blood of Poets
After solving cases in the worlds of ballet and theater, private investigator Carver Bascombe rides San Francisco’s literary circuit to track down the killer of a poet
Book 8 of 8 in the Carver Bascombe Mysteries Series
In the blog Thumbing my Nose, blogger Ruthbid wrote In spite of the number of books, I have a feeling that both Kenn Davis and Carver Bascombe are fairly well forgotten today. Even though I believe I have all but one or two of the books, theyre boxed away where I cant get at them. (Youve heard that before.) We I have them all here lets up that Carver Bascombe is remembered