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A Real Piece of Work (Dakota Stevens #1)

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  185 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
A REAL PIECE OF WORK delves into a world of forged and stolen art, secret identities and murder.

In a case 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 70 years.

DAKOTA STEVENS is a modern PI, medium-boiled. As a former FBI agent with ex
Kindle Edition, 247 pages
Published (first published November 28th 2011)
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Feb 25, 2012 Deb rated it did not like it
I was torn between one and two stars and finally went with one. Really -- parts of the book were really good, but others bombed. Here are just a couple that ruined it for me.


Dakota meets a woman for the first time who owns an art gallery, questions her about his current case, they exchange some limited information, she crosses her legs "revealing a trim and eager thigh", plays with her necklace and he grabs her hair and kisses her so hard their teeth "clonked together". Really?? It
Nov 15, 2012 Eric_W rated it liked it
Charming detective story. I was not familiar with Orcut’s writing before this one, but I will certainly look him up again. The title is, of course, a pun as it relates to several things, most obviously the painting that Dakota Stevens, ex-cop/FBI has been hired by a strange little man who appeared in his office out of a blizzard to locate. Ostensibly very valuable, it would appear the painting is a forgery.

Dakota is a great character and Svetlana, who speaks seven languages and is a chess master
Dick Peterson
Feb 06, 2012 Dick Peterson rated it it was amazing
Move over Spenser and make room for Dakota Stevens

Orcutt’s characters have height, breadth, AND depth. Their personality, interesting quirks, and attitudes leap from the page. You’ll like them so much you’ll want to buy the action figures. (Personally, I'll be ordering the Svetlana doll.) New York’s metropolitan and upstate backdrops are vividly included as characters, as well. Beyond the relationships and geography, the story has grab, tempo, sophistication, and well-researched intricacies of t
Mar 03, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this book. I'm a little in love with Dakota Stevens. Svetlana scares me; at the same time, I want to be her.

The characters are marvelous and the story, told in first person by Dakota Stevens, former FBI agent and now private investigator, is smart and funny. I was surprised at how sad I was for him at the end.

The only thing I predicted in advance was what would happen to Shay. Otherwise, there was one surprise after another and I totally didn't see what would happen in the end.
Aug 03, 2012 T rated it it was amazing
Shelves: detectives

A clever private eye, Dakota Stevens, and his seductive, Russian female assistant, (who by the way also happens to be a gorgeous, world famous chess player) embark on a case to locate a missing painting. Should be easy, right? Who knew one painting could be so much trouble. They follow the clues around New York, and he dodges mysterious men who are tracking him until he uncovers what is really going on.

It's a light and easy read with minor violence. The plot is well paced, which is sometimes t
Alexas Orcutt
Dec 03, 2011 Alexas Orcutt rated it it was amazing
I have enjoyed all of the Spenser novels, but Dakota Stevens and his sassy sidekick Svetlana, are my new favorite detectives. A Real Piece of Work is the first in a series about a private investigator who truly investigates. In this story, what begins as a simple case of lost and found becomes a tangled multi-national, multi-generational mystery with twists and shocking revelations. If you pay attention to the details, armchair sleuths *may* be able to figure it out…but I doubt it.
Feb 10, 2012 Donje rated it really liked it
This is really good.
O.M. Grey
Jan 07, 2013 O.M. Grey rated it liked it
I quite enjoyed A Real Piece of Work up until about the halfway point. Once the redheaded bombshell who painted nude self-portraits was introduced, and objectified so heavily, my red flags went up. Although, for a hard-boiled detective story, the misogynistic commentary was quite light.

Once said redhead was sexually attacked in her art director's office, that's what it stopped for me. She was called "slut" and blamed for flirting with everyone and then being surprised someone followed through, e
Rachel Abbott
Feb 10, 2012 Rachel Abbott rated it it was amazing
A compelling mystery, well written and very entertaining

You can tell from the naming of his main characters - Dakota Stevens and Svetlana Krüsh - that author Chris Orcutt has a sense of humour, and this is apparent throughout his writing. This book is no comedy - far from it - but Orcutt displays a lightness of touch in dealing with his characters that makes it a joy to read.

The story focuses around Dakota - ex FBI agent now turned PI - and his ‘beautiful assistant’ chess world champion Svetlan
Sep 30, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Dakota Stevens is a PI, assisted by his trusty sidekick??? Svetlana, a tall blonde chess champion.

During a NY snowstorm, a man staggers into their office and gives them ten thousand dollars to find a stolen painting.

From that beginning, they discover the world of art forgery. In this case, someone is scamming customers by selling them forgeries of stolen artwork that's missing. Before the truth comes out, their client disappears, Dakota gets involved with a hot artist, Svetlana is forced to let
Feb 23, 2012 Kristi rated it liked it
It was good! While I’m not a huge fan of the Bond-esque “oh wow I’m just a handsome P.I. surrounded by gorgeous women and they all want to sleep with me” spy novel genre, it worked in this case. The plot premise was good, the writing smooth and professional, and I liked the art/history facets of the story. I was surprised and pleased that Orcutt portrayed the monotonous and painstaking research necessary to solve the crime in addition to the requisite action. The love interest sub-plot was unlik ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Melinda rated it it was amazing
I don't go for PI novels typically, but the description of this one was too good to pass up. It fulfilled that promise and more. Dakota is smart, honorable and resourceful along with having the skills of a former FBI agent and lab. tech. Svetlana is brilliant, gorgeous and a world ranked Grandmaster chess champion. The interaction between the two of them is priceless - both sarcastic and witty. They are magic together. The case of the stolen art blossomed into something that was complex and amaz ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic novel. The main character is flawed and totally believable. He has the tenacity of Jack Reacher, the intelligence of Savage and the resourcefulness of McGiver. His trusted side kick is the bomb! She is a genius and he recognizes that he completely needs her to be successful. What is the saying...behind every great man is a great woman?

It is very well written and is a real page turner. The end holds a surprise...and yet not quite a surprise. I suspect he is secretly in love wi
Apr 05, 2012 Angie added it
My Kindle Prime free loan for this month. The sample was good.

This is an action-oriented international thriller featuring a former FBI agent with a keen eye for feminine pulchritude who is trying hard to fill the role of hard-bitten PI, complete with a gorgeous Russian sidekick who is also a world-ranked chess get the picture....

Not really my kind of read, which is why I don't really feel adequate to assign a rating, but if you enjoy this kind of adventure, this is rather well-done.
Apr 24, 2013 Crystal rated it really liked it
A Real Piece of Work reminded me of the Plum Series by Janet Evanovich, but in reverse. It has your standard slapstick PI, who in this case is a man, and your bombsell friend who has all the answers, who in this case is a woman. If you're expecting a serious murder mystery, I think you'll be disappointed. I appreciated a quick read with some humor and some suspense. I'd definitely read another Dakota Stevens novel.
I really like the 2 main characters in this mystery - the 'medium-boiled' PI and his more than able assistant. I enjoyed their relationship and the mystery kept me guessing. Maybe a little far-fetched, but it is fiction and was very entertaining. I will read the next one in this series. 3.5 stars!! GR, we really need half stars!!
Aug 28, 2012 Michelleluster rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I loved every word and page of this book. Unlike it's successor I did guess a few things along the way in this book but I'm pretty sure that was the authors intent. I think it was Chekov who said he's not going to show the audience a gun hanging on the wall in a play unless he intends for someone to use it. Bang bang - it gets us either way. Read this book.
Mar 30, 2016 Quillracer rated it liked it
Not a bad book overall.

An interesting plot with a simple case that escalates into a major one.

Lots of action Orcutt did a good job of describing so that it was easy for the reader to follow what was happening.

Plenty of surprises. One was a bit out of left field but made perfect sense.

Good enough that I’ll read more of these books.
Jun 19, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Fast-paced, adventurous, fun. The writing is smart; it's def a cut above most modern day novels in the mystery/thriller genre. Also PI Dakota Stevens, the main character, is superbly witty, making it all the more entertaining.
Mar 13, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
An ex FBI agent now a private detective and his Chess Grand Master partner get caught up in what turns out to be a case of stolen art, forgeries and a secret Nazi enclave in the Catskills. Another good Kindel Free selection and an author worth repeating.
Patricia Bergman
Jan 22, 2014 Patricia Bergman rated it really liked it
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. I am purposely avoiding any spoilers so will just say that I do recommend this book.
Roger N.
Feb 12, 2013 Roger N. rated it it was ok
This book was ridiculous, and only rarely in good ways. The tone is just... odd. It had a good mystery at the middle of it. I was only surprised once, and incredulous many more times, which just isn't a good balance for me.
Sep 03, 2016 Gail rated it liked it
I enjoyed this mystery that involved Nazis and high jinks in the art world. Our sleuths are a former FBI agent, now a private detective and his assistant, an beautiful Eastern European chess champion. They create a likable team with good chemistry and the plot moved along nicely.
Jan 06, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read, very charming detective mystery with many nods to the old masters. Plus many supportive details on stolen art / Nazis. Highly recommend
Christine Rose
Jan 07, 2013 Christine Rose rated it liked it
Please see my review on my alter-ego's profile: O. M. Grey.
Jun 14, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed. Easy read and enjoyed the characters. Usually not a "mystery" fan but look forward to reading more from this author.
Frances Torgerson
Jan 07, 2015 Frances Torgerson rated it really liked it
Great read.

I liked DakOta series. Can't wait for the next book in the series. When does another one come out? Help.
TPRJones rated it liked it
Oct 09, 2016
Laura rated it liked it
Mar 30, 2012
Sarah Caudell
Sarah Caudell rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2016
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Maine Book Chatters: Chris Orcutt's A Real Piece of Work 4 4 Feb 12, 2012 06:27AM  
Q&A with Chris Or...: My Mystery Novel — A REAL PIECE OF WORK 1 5 Dec 28, 2011 04:44PM  
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CHRIS ORCUTT has written professionally for over 20 years as a fiction writer, journalist, scriptwriter, playwright, technical writer and speechwriter. He has also taught high school U.S. history and college writing.At Baruch College, City University of New York, Chris received the Distinguished Teaching Award, and as a newspaper reporter he received a New York Press Association award.

Chris is the
More about Chris Orcutt...

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