Re: RARA-AVIS: Brett Halliday recommendations

From: James Reasoner (
Date: 06 Aug 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "JIM DOHERTY" <> To: <> Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 4:48 PM Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Brett Halliday recommendations

> Miker,
> Re your question below:
> > Can
> > you recommend a few good [novels by Brett Halliday]?
> Others have noted that Hallidays' Mike Shayne
> character seems to shine most brightly when taken out
> of his usual stomping grounds (Miami, FL) and
> investigates in "foreign" settings.
> My favorite Shayne novel, A TASTE FOR VIOLENCE, fits
> right into that formua. It's a town-taming novel, set
> in a Kentucky mining community, very much in the vein

One of my favorites is MURDER IS MY BUSINESS, which is set in El Paso. I like nearly all the novels from the Forties a lot. Some titles that come to mind: MARKED FOR MURDER, THE UNCOMPLAINING CORPSES, TICKET FOR DEATH, BLOOD ON THE BLACK MARKET (the first novel after Phyllis Shayne's death), and MICHAEL SHAYNE'S LONG CHANCE (set in New Orleans, also the introduction of Lucy Hamilton).

> It's been said that all the Shayne novels written
> after 1956 or thereabouts were ghost-written. It's a
> fact that virtually all the short stories about Shayne
> in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE were ghost-written.
> In fact, our own James Reasoner was one of Halliday's
> ghosts on a couple of Shayne shorts.

And it was one of the most enjoyable writing jobs I've had. I was young, getting paid for my writing on a fairly regular basis for the first time in my career, and working with a character I'd been reading for years. I was in high cotton, let me tell you.

> However, I've also heard, from people in the know,
> that the novels were not so much ghost-written as they
> were ghost-collaborated. Whether or not this is true,
> and if so, to what degree Halliday actually
> participated in the writing, I can't say. However,
> the novels (which were assumed to be actually by
> Halliday until the names of some of his "ghosts" were
> revelaled) stopped appearing shortly after Halliday's
> death in 1977, while the MSMM short stories (which
> everyone knew were ghosted) continued for several
> years. That's not conclusive evidence, but it is
> indicative.

I suspect that Davis Dresser may have had a hand in plotting some of the ghosted books, such as the ones written by Ryerson Johnson, but the novels by Dennis Lynds were expansions of stories Lynds had written originally for MSMM, so it's doubtful Dresser had any input on those. As for the ones written by Robert Terrall (the most prolific Halliday ghost at novel length), I've never heard that Dresser had anything to do with those. Just because I haven't heard it, though, doesn't mean that it isn't so.

Speaking of Ryerson Johnson, before Gold Medal month is over, I plan to read the two novels he wrote with Dresser as Matthew Blood, THE AVENGER and DEATH IS A LOVELY DAME.

Best, James

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 06 Aug 2002 EDT