Created by Charles Alverson

   “I was right, wasn’t I, Joe? You should have been a private dick all the time. You’re a natural. Here you’ve had a private op’s license a full six hours or so, and you’re working overtime finding dead bodies, disappearing potential murderers and witnesses, bumping heads with detective sergeants all over the place. You’ve got the knack, boy.”

JOE GOODEY is a San Francisco shamus who appeared in two novels by Charles Alverson. Jonah Webster “Joe” Goodey makes his debut in Goodey’s Last Stand (1975). He is a San Francisco homicide detective whose career is cut short when he mistakes the mayor’s cousin for a gunman and shoots him. Goodey is then told, in no uncertain terms, to either resign and get the hell out of town, or face charges for attempted murder. Maybe, after things cool down, he can return to the city and get a private investigator’s license. His exile from San Francisco is short-lived, however, when he is called back to the city to investigate the murder of a popular North Beach stripper named Tina D’Oro, who also happened to be a special friend of the mayor’s. In Not Sleeping, Just Dead (1977), Goodey is hired to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman at a Monterey County commune/rehab clinic called The Institute.

Goodey's Last Stand (1975)

Goodey is a wise-cracker who would never be accused of having enlightened views about women or minorities, but he is honest and a basically decent guy. Alverson obviously enjoys his work, though:

   Smokey Sefton, the assistant ghoul, pulled out what looked like a filing cabinet drawer, flipped back a rubber blanket, and there was Tina, lying on her back with those fantastic tits sticking up like howitzer shells. Her skin was the color of old, weatherworn marble, gray-white, and with a vague coarseness. The famous body was unmarked except for a nasty appendix scar and a rather triangular wound just above and slightly to the right of her left breast, made by the blade that had nicked an artery and spilled her life’s blood. The interns had done a good job of cleaning her up, but they didn’t know much about the latest hair styles.
   “Fucking amazing,” said Ralph, exaggeratedly bug-eyeing Tina’s body. “Bet you’ve been having a good time for yourself down here, eh, Smokey? I’d hate to have that body dusted for prints. Put you away for life.”

(There is a reason, after all, that the Goodey novels were reprinted in paperback by Playboy Press.)

Charles Alverson’s writing career has taken many strange turns. After graduating from San Francisco State he got started in journalism, moving to New York and working as assistant editor at Harvey Kurtzman’s HELP! Magazine before landing at the Wall Street Journal. He is best-known, however, as the screenwriter of Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky (he also wrote the first draft of Gilliam’s Brazil, but is uncredited in that film). He has lived in London, Cambridge, and Wales (where he wrote the Goodey novels). When last heard from, he was living with his third wife in rural north Serbia. He has one other novel, a stand-alone thriller called Fighting Back (1973), and several children’s books to his credit.


  • “The next best thing to finding a new and unsuspected Raymond Chandler phantasmagoria.” (The New Yorker)
  • “[Goodey’s Last Stand] is rich in San Francisco background and colorful characters and includes a nice ongoing bit about Goodey’s Chinese landlord...”
    (1001 Midnights, Pronzini and Muller, eds., Arbor House, 1986)


  • Goodey’s Last Stand (1975)
  • Not Sleeping, Just Dead (1977)


Goodey's Last Stand, 1979
Not Sleeping, Just Dead, 1980


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