RARA-AVIS: Re: Question and Comment

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 23 Feb 2008


Re your question below:

> I thought "Brett Halliday" was a pseudonym, no? Wasn't the
> Brett actually David Dresdner or something like that?

"Brett Halliday" was, indeed, a pseudonym, but it wasn't a house name like, say, "Nick Carter." It was Davis Dresser's personal pseudonym, and he was the creator and copyright owner of Shayne. Sometime in the '50's, as I understand it, he developed writer's block or something and started hiring ghosts to write the books, which still appeared under the Halliday by-line. When I say "Halliday," I mean Dresser, the real Halliday.

According to at least one of those ghosts, Dennis Lynds, Halliday
(the real one) still contributed something to each of the novels that appeared under his (pen) name. It may not have been much more than a light edit, but he always did something. This seems to be borne out by the fact that the books stopped after Halliday died in 1977.

By contrast, the short stories appearing in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, also bylined "Brett Halliday," were not by Halliday (the real one) and Halliday (the real one) had no part in the writing of them, not even so much as a light edit. Significantly, those short stories continued to be produced long after Halliday's (the real one's) death. Our own James Reasoner was one of the ghost-Hallidays on MSMM.
> I have a pretty large collection of Mike Shayne books--mostly for
> cover art. I have only read a few--all early ones--and they seem
> perfectly capable. I've liked the Hallidays and the Prathers I've
> a lot more than, for example, the Spillanes.
> Are there any Halliday/Shayne fans here? Any perspectives on the
> series?

I like 'em, but don't expect Hammett, Chandler, or Macdonald. They're nicely constructed time-passers, somewhat formulaic (or at least, following a fairly familiar recipe, which makes it sound a bit less mechanical).

My favorite is A TASTE FOR VIOLENCE, in which Shayne does the RED HARVEST dance by taming a corrupt, gangster-ridden small town.


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