Newsroom Eyes
Dan Banion
Created by Robert Finnegan (pseud. Paul William Ryan, 1906-1947)

DAN BANION is a reporter for The San Francisco Journal who acts so much like a private eye at times that "he often seems to forget that he owes the city editor a story," according to T.J. Binyon in Murder Will Out.

He only appeared in three books in the forties, but the combination of hard-boiled swagger, wounded compassion (he's a widower still very much in mourning) and social conscience set him apart from so many of the glib, knuckle-dragging P.I. novels that would soon reach their epitome in the "noxious patriotism and cult of manhood in writers like Micky Spillane," as frumiousb, a surprisingly interesting and well-informed reviewer on put it.

In fact,

In the same review he praises Finnegan for his characterization, and for his detective's M.O. "Banion solves the crime by listening and talking-- by being a friend to the man in the street. He's an ordinary joe who was dealt a hard hand and uses his position and perspective to help the little guy."

But his publishers rushed to dispell the notion that Banion was a pushover. One cover blurbs reassures readers that Banion is the kind of "no holds-barred kind of operative who couldn't be stopped by cops or by criminals."  

The San Fancisco-born author was a sailor, shop worker and "rank-and-file journalist" for the union movement and eventually joined the Communist party. He married Mary King O'Donnell in 1944, and was only 41 when he died. Given his labour sympathies and the tenor of the times and the blacklist looming, it shouldn't come as much of a surpise that he used pseudonyms. As Mike Quin, he even wrote a book called The Big Strike, a sympathetic chronicle of the 1934 San Francisco dockworkers' strike.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with thanks to David Pekasky for the thunk on the head.

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