Timothy Dane

Created by William Ard (1922-1960)

Partial to Seagram's Seven and a good steak dinner at Toot Shor's, TIMOTHY DANE is a young (30ish) New York gumshoe with an excellent reputation for honesty who appeared in nine (or is it ten?) books back in the fifties, all recommended.

He's tall, and some women find the ex-Marine "handsome as hell." He seems to know his way around the hotspots of the Big Apple, circa 1950-57. His seventeenth floor one-man office, in the Paramount Building, is on Broadway "just around the corner from Sardi's." And it is a one-man office. He doesn't have any office help, not even a "sloe-eyed, grapefruit-bosomed private secretary slithering in and out."

In fact, considering his contemporaries (Mike Hammer, Shell Scott, etc.) Timothy's a pretty normal guy. Not too flashy, not particularly eager for action, and far from some super stud that all women find irresistable. His drink is rye, and he enjoys baseball (he's a Yankees fan) and the works of Somerset Maugham. Maybe a good steak at Toots Shors', if he's in the chips. His pals include Jack, the bartender at his favorite watering hole, and Hal Harper, a homicide lieutenant, NYPD, who keeps trying to get Timothy to join the force.

But Dane's appeal lies in the fact that he is a basic, decent guy, just trying to do his job the best way he can and keep his integrity if possible. Sure, he carries a .45, and he's not afraid to use it, and he walks the walk and talks the talk, but he's surprisingly compassionate for the time, very similar at times to the later Lew Archer and Michael Collins' Dan Fortune. series In fact, I find Ard's work far more enjoyable than that of Ross Macdonald in the same time period. Sure, Dane's cases tend to be a tad pulpier and melodramatic than Archer's, but at the same time, Dane's a far more compelling and down to earth character.

It's too bad Ard passed away in 1960. Who knows how far he could have taken Dane?

A long-time favourite of mine, Brooklyn-born Ard was one of the unjustly forgotten hard-boiled writers of the fifties. An ex-Marine, a publicist and copywriter, he also worked for a brief time, just after WWII , as a detective. His career burned bright but fast, lasting little more than a decade , but in that time he mananaged to create several intriguing New York private eyes Lou Largo, Johnny Stevens, Barney Glines and Mike (later Danny) Fountain, as well as a string of well-regarded westerns (as Jonas Ward). Other pseudonyms included Ben Kerr and Mike Moran.

UNDER OATH

  • "(Ard was) just about unmatched for driving story-movement and acute economy."

-- Anthony Boucher

  • "Fast and sloppy though he was, Ard had the ability to grab readers and make them care about the characters."

-- William D'Andrea in Encyclopedia Mysteriosa

QUOTES

  • "That's the trouble when you get to eating regular. You forget how desparate you get when you're hungry."

-- Don't Come Crying To Me

  • "I'm no do-gooder, but, dammit, you can't do things that way."

-- Don't Come Crying To Me

  • "...because I have to live with myself."

-- Don't Come Crying To Me

  • "And I don't like the implication that I'm going to be more loyal for five hundred than I am for eighty."

-- The Diary

  • "We (private detectives) walk with trouble...with trouble and in trouble. Wherever we go we're not welcome. We make people uneasy, the same as undertakers. The innocent shun us, the guilty hate us. The police resent us. We're a colony of lepers...and some of us talk too much."

--The Diary

EXTRA POINTS!

  • For a surprisingly tolerant opinion of marijuana during the "Reefer Madness" paranoia of the time. To wit:.

    "Marijuana is just a cheap kick with a nasty hangover. It takes no more to break the habit than it did to stop sucking your thumb."

-- The Diary

NOVELS

  • The Perfect Frame (1951) .. Buy this book
  • The Diary (1952)
  • .38 (1952; aka "You Can't Stop Me;" UK: "This is Murder") .. Buy this book
  • Private Party (1953)
  • Don't Come Crying to Me (1954)
  • Mr. Trouble (1954)
  • A Private Party (1955; UK: Rogue's Murder)
  • Hell is a City (1955) ...Buy this book
  • Cry Scandal (1956)...Buy this book
  • Root of His Evil (1957; aka "Deadly Beloved")

COLLECTIONS

Includes The Perfect Frame and .38

RELATED LINKS

Ard liked the name so much, he used it three times.

Dennis Miller's fascinating profile of one of the genre's sadly forgotten writers.

The Passing Tramp blogs on one of my favourite novels in the series.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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