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A Real Piece of Work (The Dakota Stevens Mysteries) [Kindle Edition]

Chris Orcutt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $4.99
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Chump Change
Private investigator Leo Waterman thought he had seen it all, until he finds himself in killer's torture chamber. Find out what happens in Chump Change.

Book Description

A Real Piece of Work, the 1st novel in the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, delves into a world of art forgery, secret identities and murder.

"Action, lust, danger, style and witty repartee, Orcutt's A Real Piece of Work is a work of art. (5 stars)" — IndieReader

A Thrill-Ride of a Mystery

At the close of a case in Key West, PI Dakota Stevens and his associate Svetlana Krüsh return to New York, where the city is in the grip of its worst blizzard since 1888. When an art dealer stumbles in from the storm and hires them to find a stolen painting, they think it's just another case, but in no time they're neck-deep in a world of unstable artists, seductive gallery owners, mysterious collectors, deadly henchmen and a stunning femme fatale.

In a thrill-ride of a mystery that leads from Manhattan to the Catskills to Washington, D.C., what begins as the simple recovery of a painting soon reveals an international art scam and a chilling secret hidden for decades.

A 21st Century Holmes & Watson

Dakota Stevens is a former FBI agent with experience in the field and the lab, a modern hard boiled detective who combines the wit and grit of Marlowe and Spenser with the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes. However, Dakota's "Watson" is anything but. A Ukrainian-American chess champion with runway legs, predator eyes, and fluency in seven languages, Svetlana Krüsh is much more than a sexy sidekick, bringing worldly sophistication and a razor-sharp mind to their cases.

A complex and layered mystery in the noir tradition, A Real Piece of Work is a pristinely well-written page-turner for readers who like a great story told with humor, wit and literary style. One of the best mysteries and one of the best private detective novels on Kindle. Scroll up and "look inside" for a sample, or click to buy.

Also available: Book 2 in the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, The Rich Are Different.

Amazon Customers Are Raving!

"Orcutt has combined a classic hard-boiled with the page-turning frenzy of a Dan Brown novel."

"PI Dakota Stevens is a cross between Philip Marlowe and Jason Bourne and his partner Svetlana Krush is a chess Grandmaster with the body of a Victoria's Secret model."

"Just when you think you've solved the mystery, Orcutt surprises you with another unexpected twist."

"As for the characters...perfection. Flawed, funny, heroic and developed fully from the first page until the final page."

"I read A Real Piece of Work in three days. Didn't get much sleep...but it was well worth it."

"Dakota Stevens and his indispensable sidekick/chess champion Svetlana Krush are a delightful modern take on the noir detective style."

"The author's ability to paint a picture or scene with words is astounding. This book is ripe for adaptation to film."

"Orcutt weaves a story that keeps you hanging on until the very end."

"People in the reviews keep mentioning Spenser/Robert B. Parker, and they're right; but add a good streak of John Le Carré, turn the roaster up a notch, and maybe you're getting in the ballpark."

Bonus Material

* The novel contains a password, giving buyers access to research *bonus material* on the Dakota Stevens website.

* The novel is based on over 2,000 pages of articles and government documents (including information about the now-famous Monuments Men) to ensure that elements of the book are historically accurate.

Book Details

* Approximately 75,000 words in length.

* 57 chapters with witty, playful titles like "A Shapely Vixen Whose Hair Smells Like Mint."

* "About the Novel": A short essay on the research and inspiration behind the novel.

* Complete author bio with links to his website, email and Twitter account.

* Sample of the first chapter from Book 2 in the Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, The Rich Are Different.

Book Keywords

art forgery, best mysteries, detective mysteries, detective novels, hard boiled, noir, private detective novels

Editorial Reviews


"Action, lust, danger, style and witty repartee, Orcutt's A Real Piece of Work is a work of art. (5 stars)" — IndieReader

"This is an extremely well written novel. It has all the elements you would want to find in a book of this genre: plenty of fast action, beautiful women, secret wealth and bravery beyond measure. But add in a couple of extra ingredients and you have a real winner. The extra ingredients? The quality of the writing. The book moves at a pace, and it's a consistent pace. It never flags. But the ingredient that makes this a winner for me is definitely Orcutt's wit. He paints the Dakota Stevens character so well that you cannot fail to like him. (5 stars)" — The Kindle Book Review

"Stylishly written—nods to the classics of the detective genre—with great characters and plenty of wit and originality. (5 stars)" — National Bestselling Author Dave King

Product Details

  • File Size: 527 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Have Pen, Will Travel (November 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of a terrific franchise November 30, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I read all of Chris Orcutt's Dakota Stevens novels as manuscripts, and I found them brainy, stylish, imaginative and a great deal of fun. I'm glad to see that the initial book is finally available to the reading public, and I hope the author will soon bring out the later volumes of the series.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read... Couldn't put it down December 3, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing style is engaging and witty, the plot twists reel you in from the first page, and the characters came to life. I literally couldn't put this book down until I finished it. The details in this story really brought it to life without weighing down the story. A perfect balance. I am now stalking this author on amazon, anxiously awaiting the release of his next book in the series.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Sam Spade, but funnier and more adventurous December 11, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A Real Piece of Work is the book to read if you want an excellent mystery, but Orcutt's masterful addition of wit and humor also makes it that much more irresistible for those who haven't historically flocked to the mystery genre. Dakota Stevens and his indispensable sidekick/chess champion Svetlana Krush (don't know how to make an umlaut here) are intoxicating and a delightful modern take on the noir detective style. All the characters are so well illustrated - I had the strongest reaction to Shay Connolly (I despised her) and attribute that to the amazing way the writer nailed the mannerisms and dialogue of a self-obsessed, overconfident woman that all other women hate.

The search for the stolen art leads to twists and escapades that make you THINK you've got it all figured out. But you don't. Nevertheless it's still fun to guess throughout the book. It's a little stressful at times, but not "Breaking Bad" stressful. Overall, this is one of the best books I've had the pleasure to read in a long, long time.

I've read some of Orcutt's other pieces (hopefully you're lucky enough that they'll also be released in our lifetime) and desperately hope the Dakota Stevens mysteries continue for many, many more stories - like Nancy Drew for adults (a much, much more sophisticated Nancy Drew). The world needs them!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ready for the big screen December 6, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
The author's ability to paint a picture or scene with words is astounding. This book is ripe for adaptation to film. There are several chapters with such cinematographic qualities that they will be etched forever in my mind. I look forward to more.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Piece of Work (The Dakota Stevens Mysteries) December 6, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this novel. From chapter one, you don't want to put the book down. I enjoy the fact that the author went to such great lengths to ensure all of the details of the story are accurate. Make sure you pay attention to the story because there are many twists and turns.

I look forward to other books in this series, Dakota definitely has my attention. This is a great read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced, intelligent, and downright fun January 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Chris Orcutt's writing for a few years now, so I was delighted to learn that his first in the Dakota Stevens series was available for Kindle. I downloaded it, and after a particularly difficult holiday week, indulged in the novel. My expectations were great, my standards high, and Orcutt managed to exceed everything. I'm sitting here trying to think of what engaged me the most, and I would have to say it was the incredible action, movement, and sensory detail that he applied within each deliberately drawn chapter. But please, let me elaborate - this action is fast-paced, delightful and fun (I truly felt as if I was on the wild toboggan ride with Dakota and Shay!)not bogged down with details that are easily lost. Orcutt's natural ability to research his content material provides just enough to detail that I actually felt like I was learning art history with a side of firearms in the most interesting way possible. (This book reads like I've always wished a Tom Clancy novel would read..sshhh!)
As for the characters - perfection. Flawed, funny, and heroic and developed fully from the first page until the final page. As for that final page - the teaser is enough to have me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book in the series! Soon, I hope?
As a student of screenwriting, I have to agree with another reviewer that this series is so well-written and designed for both the page AND the big (or small - I can see this being a series) screen. I look forward to seeing Daktoa and Svetlana continue to come life so that I can nurture the literary crush I have on these characters that started on, oh, about page 2.
You will be happy you chose to add this book and this author to your collection of favorites.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Work Of Art December 10, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm not a big reviewer of books, nor do I usually trust them.

However... I had the chance to meet Chris Orcutt at a book signing for a fabulous novel he wrote back in 1999 called Nick Chase's Great Escape. I've been following him ever since. (His quirky, hilarious self-published collection "I Hope You Boys Know What You're Doing!" is a great summer read, though I doubt you can find it). The stark difference between the two works demonstrates his facileness and insight as a writer.

I say this as a disclosure, because I'm already a fan, and on the fan list, so I knew of the impending Dakota Stevens series. I got whiffs of the story, but hadn't read a word until it was released.

Dakota Stevens is iconic, in the vein of Marlowe. I've begun and put down a bunch of reads that wreaked of Marlowe imitation. Orcutt certainly drew inspiration from Chandler's creation -- and from what I know about the exhaustive research Orcutt does, my good guess is he's read every Chandler novel many times over.

What is so much fun about Dakota's character is that his deep flaws are the mirror of his strengths. They drive him (and the story) forward; get him into trouble; get him through them. I say 'get him through' instead of 'get him out of' because Orcutt loves to teach the guy a lesson and make him pay for his recklessness and sometimes lousy judgement.

I'm focusing on Dakota's well-realized character here only because I don't want to give away an ounce of pleasure.
Read this journey. It's a rare literary mystery. Even his rough sass is filled with unexpectedly delicious imagery "... she had a great ass. One that should be cast in bronze and displayed in the Whitney."

If this review seems unncessarily gushing, well, I dig the guy's storytelling and his writing. He's a fabulous story-teller, a writer's writer and I hope he soon gets the larger recogntion he deserves.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I have never heard of this author before but will look for more of his books. The way the author weaves in historical facts with the story made it even more interesting. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Wilkinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Really enjoyed both characters. Didn't know where it was going next" ..looking forward to next one
Would mKe a good movie
Published 17 days ago by Charmaine C. Holland
5.0 out of 5 stars books by chris orcutt
the characters were well developed and the book was easy to read. the words flowed. i enjoyed the story and looking for more.also read the rich are different.
Published 25 days ago by florence m lyons
4.0 out of 5 stars a real piece of work
The same can be said of this book. Reading it felt like the "who done its" of the 1930's. Overall good plot and nicely developed list of characters. Read more
Published 1 month ago by kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars Partly based on reality and history
A detective story, with some of the old style, "Sam Spade" like stuff, and some new ideas of how a hero acts.
Published 2 months ago by Mark Dwayne Madsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun
The characters are fun to read. Here's a tough guy with a bit of class and sexy situations along with some good fisticuffs. And the villains run from mugs to the most evil.
Published 2 months ago by Thelma Zwirn
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine art and murder
Thought provoking mystery that deals with fine art and murder. It is interesting that the author borrowed his idea from some actual historical events of which I was not aware. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patricia
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging story with good plot twists. Add a protagonist who is...
All in all, a good read. I am a voracious reader and this book is worth the time. I rarely write a review, so this one passes muster.
Published 4 months ago by Allen E Williams
2.0 out of 5 stars Cliche Ridden Drivel
Although the plot is interesting at times the cliche heavy sexism, unrealistic characters, and dialogue on par with a 1930s radio serial drag the whole thing down.
Published 5 months ago by John Marc Imbrescia
4.0 out of 5 stars a real piece of work
This was an easy read with many twists and turns,look forward to reading more of Dakota Stevens mysteries in the future.
Published 6 months ago by Anne David
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More About the Author

CHRIS ORCUTT is the author of the critically acclaimed Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, including the first novel, A REAL PIECE OF WORK, and the second, THE RICH ARE DIFFERENT.

His short story collection, THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, published in early July 2013, was voted by IndieReader as one of the Best Indie Books of 2013. In the spring of 2014, he published ONE HUNDRED MILES FROM MANHATTAN, a modern novel about a wealthy fictional town in Upstate New York (Wellington), and how the hills and the seemingly quaint village conceal lives of love, lust, adultery and small wars.

Orcutt's short fiction has appeared in a wide variety of literary journals. Published stories include "The Bootlegger," "Whose Van is That On Fire Out There," "Descent," "Security Guard," "All the Young Fellas Are Linin' Up" and many more.

As a playwright, Orcutt has had some plays performed in professional, staged readings, including the following with the Penobscot Theatre Company: Dark and Stormy Night; Microbrew; and Kansas City, This Is Former Air Force One.

In 1992, Orcutt received a New York Press Association award, and in 2002 he won both the 55 Fiction World's Shortest Stories competition and placed second in the MOTA 3 Emerging Writers contest. His nonfiction has appeared in several online publications and magazines including Writer's Digest.

Orcutt has written professionally for over 20 years as a journalist, fiction writer, playwright, scriptwriter, technical writer and speechwriter. He has also taught high school U.S. history, and as an adjunct lecturer in writing for the City University of New York, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award.

For more about Orcutt and his work, visit

For more about the Dakota Stevens Mysteries Series, visit OR

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