Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Private Practice of Michael Shayne: Brett Halliday

This second book in the Michael Shayne series features a private investigator in Miami, Florida. His best friend, Larry Kincaid, gets involved with shady characters because he wants to make quick money. One of them, Harry Grange, is a blackmailer who ends up dead. In trying to protect his friend from suspicion, Shayne implicates himself in the murder and spends the rest of the story trying to undo that. Peter Painter, chief of the Miami Beach detective bureau, has a grudge against Shayne and would love to prove him guilty.


This is only the second Michael Shayne novel I have read, but both books have been fun and entertaining, the stories full of twists and turns. 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, all using the same pseudonym. I don't know how the quality of the novels holds up throughout the long series, but I will be trying more of them.

Lloyd Nolan starred in seven films based on this series, starting in 1940, and the first one, Michael Shayne, Private Detective, was based on this book. Thus I sought out this paperback edition of the book so I could read it first.

Michael Shayne in the books is a tall tough red-headed Irishman. Lloyd Nolan does not exactly fit that description, but he still makes a fine Michael Shayne, charming and appealing but still tough. He is willing to bend the rules to save himself or a friend or client from arrest, and he has a humorous come-back for everything. The story in the film is switched around quite a bit, with additional characters, but basically it shares the same mystery plot as in the book. Other actors I enjoyed in this film were Marjorie Weaver as Phyllis Brighton (Shayne's love interest), Douglass Dumbrille as a crooked casino owner, Walter Abel as a crooked race horse owner, Elizabeth Patterson as Aunt Olivia, and Charles Coleman as Ponsy the butler. The film was very entertaining, much better overall than I expected it to be.

Included on the DVD was a very informative featurette titled The Detective Who Never Dies, including interviews with Otto Penzler, Barry T. Zeman, Dorothy Salisbury Davis, James Ursini, Alain Silver, Stuart Kaminsky, and Halliday's widow, Mary Dresser.

Both the cover of my paperback edition and the DVD cover shown here feature illustrations by Robert McGinnis.

My earlier posts related to this series are an overview of the series and a  review of Bodies Are Where You Find Them.

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Publisher:  Dell, 1958. Orig. pub. 1940.
Length:     190 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Michael Shayne, #2
Setting:     Miami, Florida
Genre:      Mystery, private detective
Source:     I purchased my copy.


16 comments:

  1. There is something to be said for those series that are just...fun, isn't there, Tracy? And that is, as you say, a really long-running series. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, and you reminded me that, at some point, I want to do a spotlight on one of those books. Thanks.

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    1. Margot, I would love to see you do a spotlight on a Michael Shayne mystery.

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  2. As well as the books there was the Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine which ran for 300+ issues, with a Mike Shayne novella in each issue, and a three issue comic series from Dell.

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    1. I knew about the magazine, John, and I knew that there were lots of stories, but it was only recently that I realized that a lot of them were novellas. I am definitely going to look into those.

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  3. Used to love Nolan's old movies when I was a yout'. He bequeathed his voice to Howard Cosell!

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    1. After we watch the rest of the set of four Michael Shayne movies, I am going to look for other movies he was in, Mathew. I don't remember watching movies he was in when I was younger, but probably some television.

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    2. I had thought he played Boston Blackie,too, but I just checked, and that was Chester Morris. Great old show!

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    3. I don't remember seeing any Boston Blackie films, but I do remember Chester Morris in some films.

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  4. I might like to try one of these one day if I ever bump into one.

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    1. This is certainly more to your liking than a number of the books I review, Col. I am sure they change focus over time as they started out in the late 30s and went through the mid 70's.

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  5. I've read this one, and the first 6 or 7 in the series, plus a few others at rendom. I always have one or two in the TBR stack, just for fun. Nice review.

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    1. Thanks, Rick. I have a few more books from the 40s, and 4 or 5 from the 50s. I would like to find some of the one that Robert Terrall wrote and try those someday.

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  6. I've never read any MIchael Shayne books, can't really say why - but I'm familiar with the films. I'm a big Lloyd Nolan fan.

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    1. I don't know whether you would like the Michael Shayne books, Yvette, but if you like the movies, it would be worth it to try one of the earlier books. The movie I saw spent more time on the humor than the books. I like Lloyd Nolan too. We just saw him in an old Ellery Queen episode. That was fun.

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  7. Fascinating - I had only vaguely heard of this series, and it was good to find out more about them. Love the covers.

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    1. The covers I have are wonderful, Moira, and I keep seeing other ones (Dell Mapback editions, for example) that I want to get. They are fast and easy reads, but even so, I don't expect to read a great deal of them.

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