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“A terrific, sprawling international adventure”
--Charles Ardai, publisher of Hard Case Crime
The Last Match (2006)

The Last Match

(2006)

Publishing History

  • New York: Dorchester Publishing Co., 2006 (Hard Case Crime HCC-025); ISBN: 978-0857683694 [Buy this book]
  • New York: Diversion Books, 2015. [Kindle edition]; ISBN: 978-1626816046 [Buy this book]

Read an Excerpt

Read The Story of The Last Match

Setting

  • Côte d’Azur, Tangier, South America, etc.

Summary

   David Dodge’s final novel, entitled The Last Match, languished for thirty-three years as an unpublished manuscript. It is a first-person narrative, whose hero remains unnamed throughout the storyŚwe know him only by his nickname, “Curly.” In the novel, Dodge revisits some of the situations that he had the most success with in earlier works, both fiction and nonfiction. Curly is an American crook (a con man) based in the south of France, à la John Robie in To Catch a Thief. He also travels down the Amazon in a riverboat, a journey similar to the one described in 20,000 Leagues Behind the 8-Ball. However, the novel is not a cannibalization; it is a unique and original tale.

   Curly begins his life of crime in the playground of the rich and famous-the casinos and hotels of Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo. He becomes involved in a cigarette-smuggling scheme with a French hotel-bartender named Jean-Pierre and a couple of Corsican gangstaires, nicknamed The Boar and The Plank. The experience promptly lands him in jail in Marseille. He is paroled to a beautiful British heiress, Regina “Reggie” Forbes-Jones, who disapproves of his chosen profession and is determined to reform him.

   In order to escape her—and another potential jail sentence—Curly leaves France and moves to Tangier, where he “inherits” a job and a girl from another American. The job is writing come-on letters to American suckers for a phony Moroccan bank and the girl is Boda, “as flawless a piece of Danish pastry as has ever been perpetrated.” From there Curly returns to the U.S. before shipping out for South America and landing in Lima, Peru.

   Escaping Lima just one step ahead of the Peruvian cops, Curly boards an Amazonian riverboat in Iquitos and ends up with an 18-month jail sentence in Brazil. Shortly after his release he is reunited—and reconciled—with Reggie. They return to the Côte d’Azur and set up housekeeping in a hillside villa near Mougins. After a tense showdown with The Plank, Curly and Reggie settle down on an island off the Sardinian coast.

   Many of the Dodge family’s world travels can be traced in The Last Match. Some of them, especially the French and South American sojourns, have been well-documented in Dodge’s travel books. Others find their way into narrative form for the first time here. For example, the Dodges lived in Morocco for a time, yet none of his previous writings had a Moroccan setting.

   It is unclear why the book was never published during Dodge’s lifetime. A 1973 cover letter from Dodge to his British literary agent that accompanies the manuscript explains that he had been unable to find an American publisher for the book and was seeking publication in the U.K. Certainly it is not his strongest work. However, it is filled with his usual colorful description, tight plotting, well-drawn characters, and expert dialogue. The publication by Hard Case Crime, which features an afterword by the author’s daughter, Kendal Dodge Butler, marks not only the first edition of The Last Match but also the first new David Dodge material since his death in 1974.


Book Reviews

Previous novel Troubleshooter (1971)
 
 

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