Newsroom Eyes

Bart Hardin

Created by David Alexander (1907-1973)

Broadway is his beat.

BART HARDIN was the rambling, gambling two-fisted editor of The Broadway Times, who starred in eight novels back in the fifties, fondly remembered these days for, among other things, living above a flea circus in a Times Square tenement.

The Broadway Times was essentially a throwaway rag, covering horse racing, the fights and show biz, and as such, gave its pugnacious, decidedly hands-on editor ample opportunity to wander around and get involved in all sorts of jams and scrapes.

Fortunately, the hard-drinking, hard-boiled ex-Marine, who apparently favoured flowered vests for some reason, was more than up to the task. Over the course of the series, Bart got involved in everything from a serial killer named "Whacko" stalking women in the theatre district (Terror on Broadway) to drug trafficking (Paint the Town Black). And fans of Yuletide murders that take place in flea circuses could do worse than checking out Shoot a Sitting Duck.

The books were full of colourful street characters, and offered a great look of the Great White Way of that era. Among the many recurring characters was Bart's usually friendly (but not always) rival, Lieutenant Romano of the NYPD, who had also been a character in Alexander's other series, featuring Tommy "Twotoes" Tuthill and Terry Bob Rooke.

Author David Alexander was the managing editor for ten years for New York's The Daily Telegraph, a paper that served as obvious inspiration for The Broadway Times. He also wrote for the New York Herald Tribune and National Thoroughbred, but what he really wanted was to write crime fiction, so he enrolled in New York's Institue of Criminology, and was actually offered several jobs in the field. But he stuck with fiction and wrote numerous short stories for the pulps and digests of the time, as well as novels, which included the dark standalone The Madhouse in Washington Square (1958), the Hardin series, and another one featuring the exploits of Tuthill and Rooke, a detective team similar to Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.

WE GET LETTERS!

  • "I am trying to trace a series of detective stories written, I think, in the 50s. I live in London now so practical bookshop searches are out of the question - and all Internet quests have been unsuccessful... but there were a series of American paperbacks about a detective who lived and worked on Broadway. All I can remember about them, apart from the atmosphere - and that I liked them very much - is that above the detective's office there was a flea circus! The man who owned the flea circus was a regular character in the novels. - As I remember they were sort of cosy hard-boiled! Lots of odd shabby characters always centred around Broadway."

-- Libby Hall, London

NOVELS

  • Terror on Broadway (1954)
  • Paint the Town Black (1954)
  • Shoot a Sitting Duck (1955)
  • The Murder of Whistler's Brother (1956)
  • Die, Little Goose (1956)
  • The Death of Humpty Dumpty (1957)
  • Hush-a-Bye Murder (1957)
  • Dead, Man, Dead (1959)

RELATED LINKS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with an assist from David Nobriga. And a big thanks to Libby Hall for the lead.


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