Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Mike Shayne series by Brett Halliday

When I was at the book sale this year I ran into a box full of vintage paperbacks. That has never happened in all the decades I have been attending the sale. There may be occasional boxes of paperbacks with one or two vintage paperbacks in them on the tables. This box was tucked away under a table. There were lots of Mike Shayne mysteries and a good number of Perry Mason or Bertha Lam / Donald Cool mysteries. Today I concentrate on the Mike Shayne series by Brett Halliday.

I could not have passed up these books because most of them had covers by Robert McGinnis. Luckily this was identified on the back cover of the books, because even though I have two books about McGinnis's book covers and art in general, I cannot identify them without help. He does have a distinctive style but there were other cover artists with similar styles. The books were not in great condition but the cover illustrations are still lovely and the text is readable which is a big plus.

I had no idea if I would want to read these books or just have them for my collection of vintage book covers. When I got home I started investigating and discovered that his books will be well worth reading, or at least sampling them to see what I think.

At Mysterious Press:
Miami-based Michael Shayne is at once a hardboiled private eye and a methodical, Nero Wolfe-esque classical detective. In the early books in the series, his tightly-plotted investigations are complemented by humorous episodes involving his wife, offering some relief as he tangles with all sorts of criminals, be they blackmailers (The Private Practice of Michael Shayne), scammy realtors (The Uncomplaining Corpses), or murderous politicians (Bodies Are Where You Find Them).

The first thirty novels in the series were written by Davis Dresser, using the pseudonym Brett Halliday. The remaining novels (there were over 70) were written by other authors. Many were written by Robert Terrall; Dennis Lynds (a Santa Barbara resident) and Ryerson Johnson also wrote a few. I will have more on Robert Terrall in a later post.


If you want to learn more about this series, see this post at Killer Covers:
The Corpse Came Calling, by Brett Halliday
There I learned that Davis Dresser was also a resident of Santa Barbara. I was also reminded that one of my favorite films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was based partly on Brett Halliday's novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them.

At this post by J. Kingston Pierce of the Rap Sheet, there are many links about Brett Halliday and the Mike Shayne series, plus illustrators of book covers for that series.

The Thrilling Detective website is a wonderful resource for fictional private eyes. See the page there for Mike Shayne.


























18 comments:

  1. Fantastic covers! I've only read one Mike Shayne, MURDER IS MY BUSINESS. It's a fairly early one and it's certainly fun.

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    1. I was very happy with these Mike Shayne books, dfordoom. I got about 5 or 6 more, and some of those were not in the Mike Shayne series, but probably also worth reading. I will look for Murder is My Business.

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  2. The cover art reminds me a little bit of Peter O'Donnell's 'Modesty Blaise'. It's drawn in the same style.

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    1. That is interesting, Hervey. I have wanted to try some of the Modesty Blaise comic strips but don't know much about them. Thanks for the reminder.

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    2. There are also Modesty Blaise novels.

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    3. Dfordoom, I had originally planned to read some of the books, then later decided to go for the comics first. I haven't actually gotten copies of either yet though. I did check out your post on Last Day In Limbo, and that sounded interesting and different than I would have expected.

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  3. Tracy, I'll have to look harder for such vintage paperbacks at the book exhibitions I frequent in Bombay. These are some great covers.

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    1. I was very thrilled to find them, Prashant. A total surprise. I hope you do find some at the exhibitions.

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  4. Oh, those covers are great, Tracy! I can see why you'd want to collect them. I hope you'll enjoy the mysteries, too, of course. If you get to one or more of them, I hope you'll post your review(s).

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    1. I will definitely post on them, Margot. I do think I will enjoy the stories.

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  5. My most recent Shayne book read was Bodies Are Where You Find Them. I like the series a lot, but prefer the Dresser books.

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    1. I remember your post, Richard. I was surprised when I looked later and saw that I had that one too. That is the one I am going to start with, mainly because it is the earliest in the series that I have.

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  6. This is the kind of find I dream about! Congratulations!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, Debbie. Finding these books definitely made my day.

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  7. That was such good luck. I love those covers.

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    1. I was surprised that they had not been bought up by other buyers at the book sale, Katrina. We went on the second day of the sale, and later in the day, so it wasn't like we were the first ones there. I did feel very lucky.

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  8. I was admiring the covers, which are great, while thinking I didn't need to read the books. But then you mentioned Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which is one of my favourite films too.... is the book similar?

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    1. I will let you know when I read it, Moira, which should be soon. My husband also discovered that a recent movie, The Nice Guys, also written by the same screenwriter as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, was based loosely on a very late Mike Shayne book (which would have meant a different writer under the Brett Halliday name). That one definitely has a similar story line, as I can tell from the cover.

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