Ace Carpenter
Created by Hamilton T. Caine
(pseud. of Stephen Smoke)

"Her spirits, as well as her tits and ass, were beginning to sag more than a little."
-- Caine tries to do Chandler in Hollywood Heroes.

ACE CARPENTER is a Southern California P. I. created by Hamilton T. Caine (actually Stephen Smoke, founder and editor of Mystery Magazine). In fact, Smoke worked out the character in a handful of short stories in that magazine, before making the jump to novels.

Ace's debut, 1981's Carpenter, Detective, was nominated for a Best Paperback Original Shamus, and there was a sequel, Hollywood Heroes, that popped up five years later.

As I recall, I enjoyed the books, partcularly the first one. I thought they were pretty good solid P.I. fare, and they certainly deserved better than Living to Die, a criminally inept 1991 B-flick starring (and directed by) Wings Hauser.

Not that it's apparently slowed down Smoke, any. He's become something of a renaissance man, with his fingers in a lot of pies. He's a musician and songwriter, author of over two dozen books, including the inspirational hard-boiled P.I. series featuring Nick Sands, and filmmaker/multi-media artist. Besides founding the short-lived Mystery Magazine, he published one of the first online mystery magazines, Hamilton Caine's Mystery Digest, on CompuServe way back in 1984.



  • "Ace Carpenter, Detective (Part II)" (March/April 1980, Mystery Magazine)
  • "Hollywood Highness" (January 1981, Mystery Magazine)
  • "The Case of the Empty Fortune Cookies" (May 1981, Mystery Magazine)


  • LIVING TO DIE ....Buy this DVD
    (1991, Trinity)
    Full Synopsis:
    85 mins
    Based on characters created by Stephen Smoke
    Screenplay by Stephen Smoke
    Directed by
    Wings Hauser
    Produced by Richard Pepin, Joseph Merh
    Starring Wings Hauser as NICK CARPENTER ("Ace" in the books)
    Also starring
    Asher Brauner, R.J. Walker, Rebecca Barrington, Janice Carter, Carol Hooper, Denise Lash, Charla Driver, Wendy McDonald, Darcy de Moss, Arnold Vosloo, Minnie Madden, Jonathan Ross, Raymond Martino, Cheryl Nishi, Jason Jaeger, Jim Williams


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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