Jim Bennett

Created by Robert Martin (pseudonyms: Lee Roberts; 1908-1976)

Cleveland, Ohio's own JIM BENNETT was a rarity in detective fiction in the fifties -- a happily-married man. Thomas Dewey, Bart Spicer and James M. Fox are about the only other writers of this period that seemed to stray from the whole lone wolf/P.I. thing. His long-suffering wife was Sandy (née Hollis), who served as his secretary through most of the series; their constant struggle to pick an actual wedding date stretched through the series.

Bennett was a company man, the head of the New York-based Cleveland branch of the American-International, Inc., and far more domesticated than many of his contemporaries, at ease in his own skin, and partial to poker, hunting, trout fishing, hunting and dry martinis. He first appeared in a string of novelettes in the pulps in the forties, most notably Dime Detective, and many of the novelettes were later cannibalized, expanded, revised, and published as novels in the fifties and sixties.

A good series, solid, and pleasingly Chandleresque, given to far more characterization than was common for its time, but not shy about the private eye action, either. Surprisngly, however, there's little actual sex -- as Bill Pronzini once lamented, "In all of Jim Bennett's cases, he never once gets laid, not even by Sandy Hollis!"

Nonetheless, Martin's apprenticeship in the pages of the pulps served him well when he moved to novels. Unfortunately the series is all-but-forgotten now, although I've always enjoyed the books.

As Lee Roberts, he wrote about at keast one other private eye, Lee Fiske, and the crime-solving Dr. Clinton Shannon.

UNDER OATH

  • "And speaking of Chandler pastiches, does anybody remember a writer named Robert Martin? I thought some of his early books were about as good as the ones by Browne/Evans, though later on the books went way downhill. I thought Sleep, My Love in particular was pretty good, but some of the later books (reprinted by Curtis in paperback) were a severe drop-off."

-- Bill Crider on Rara-Avis, June 2001

SHORT STORIES

  • "G.I. Doublecross" (March 1945, Dime Detective)
  • "Murder Without Music" (August 1945, Thrilling Detective)
  • "Killers Can't Be Careless" (November 1946, Dime Detective)
  • "Nice, Like a Cobra" (February 1947, Thrilling Detective)
  • "Talk Yourself to Death" (February 1947, Mammoth Detective)
  • "Nothing But Trouble" (April 1947, Mammoth Detective)
  • "Death Under Par" (May 1947, Dime Detective)Dime Detective
  • "Wake of the Willful Wife" (August 1947, Dime Detective)
  • "Passport to Murder" (August 1947, Mammoth Detective)
  • "Death Gives a Permanent Wave" (October 1947, Dime Detective)
  • "Pardon My Poison" (April 1948, Dime Detective)
  • "Hanging is Too Good" (March 1948, Black Mask)
  • "Dolls of Death" (July 1948, Dime Detective)
  • "She, Me and Murder" (November 1948, Dime Detective)
  • "Remains -- To Be Seen" (November 1948, New Detective Magazine)
  • "Murder the Bum!" (April 1949, Dime Detective)
  • "A Shroud in Her Trousseau" (June 1949, Dime Detective)
  • "Deadliest Dame in Town" (September 1949, Dime Detective)
  • "Slayers Go Solo" (November 1949, Dime Detective)
  • "I'll Be Killing You" (Febrruary 1950, Dime Detective)
  • "Sheath Your Claws, Hellcat!" (April 1950, Dime Detective)
  • "Slayers Burn Slow" (November 1950, Dime Detective)
  • "Case of the Frozen Bridegroom" (June 1952, Detective Tales)

NOVELS

  • Dark Dream (1951)
  • Sleep My Love (1953)
  • Tears for the Bride (1954)
  • The Widow and the Web (1954)
  • The Echoing Shore (1955; aka "The Tough Die Hard")
  • Just a Corpse at Twilight (1955)
  • Catch a Killer (1956, Mercury Mystery Book Magazine)
  • Hand-Picked for Murder (1957)
  • Killer Among Us (1958)
  • A Key To The Morgue (1959)
  • To Have and To Kill (1960)
  • She, Me, and Murder (1971)
  • Bargain for Death (1972)
  • A Coffin for Two (1972)

RELATED LINKS

Private Eyes of the Buckeye State

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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