Created by Michael Brett (1921 -- 2000)
He's a big, handsome lug of a guy with black hair and blue eyes. He's appropriately cynical and has a habit of talking to himself. He likes Scotch, good cigars and Samantha Conners, a tour guide at the UN. He tools around town in a three year old Chevy and has been known to use a bug or two. But he's also been known to take a slightly more hands-on approach to cracking a case, so don't mess with him.
His name's PETE McGRATH, and he's a New York City eye who appeared in ten tight, hard and unjustly forgotten paperback originals. Judging from some of these titles, maybe McGrath's sixties weren't quite so peace-and-love as some...I mean, really, Death of a Hippie?
Lie a Little, Die a Little?
Slit My Throat Gently?
Michael Brett wrote ten McGrath novels in all, as well as standalone novels like Diamond Kill, and Jungle. He also wrote short stories, appearing in such digests of the time as Alfred Hitchcock Magazine, Manhunt, Double-Action Detective and Mystery Stories and Guilty Detective Story Magazine, and co-wrote Toma, with police detective David Toma, a novelization of the fictionalized TV show about his career.
Brett is often confused with the British author, Miles Barton Tripp, who used the Michael Brett name as pseudonym, but these were entirely different men. A recent message I received from a Rory Brett settles the issue once and for all. Pete McGrath's creator "is not British -- he was born in Patterson, NJ and lived his entire life in NY. I ought to know -- I'm his son."
Rory also cleared up another matter: Michael Brett is also the Mike Brett who wrote two amusing novels featuring a private eye named Sam Dekkers, although Hubin's lists the Mike Brett name as a pseudonym of Leslie Frederick Brett. But again, according to Rory, " "My dad wrote the Sam Dakkers books when I was growing up on an old Underwood electric typewriter that weighed about a ton in our back bedroom, and my mother retyped it on the dining room table on a Smith Corona typewriter... He smoked cigars while he wrote, and the smoke would be billowing out from under the door. I even remember the dozen books that he got from the publisher when it was released. I don't know who Leslie Frederick Brett is, but he definitely wasn't a relative."
Rory continues, "My dad actually started wrting on a bet.
Scott Meredith, a friend of my father who was a literary agent
recommended a book for him to read. My dad said this is terrible,
I could write better than this. Scott said if you do I will try
and get it published. So my dad wrote a short story and it was
published in a magazine, I think it was called Battle Cry.
The rest, as they say, was history."
AND THEN SOME WEIRD STUFF HAPPENED...
Created by Michael Brett
The 1968 Pete McGrath book, Lie a Little, Die a Little, featuring Brett was actually used as the basis for a trippy, trashy soft-core film entitled Cry Uncle! Allen Garfield, the star of such other soft-core classics as Orgy Girls and Roommates, plays a private eye (McGrath is now called "JAKE MASTERS") hired to track down a porn actress. Supposedly a cut above most films of its ilk, it boasts a few good yucks, a totally tasteless necrophilia scene, a little hardcore (including one scene involving a 65-year-old man) and Paul Sorvino in a small role as "The Coughing Cop." Oh, and the director, John G. Avildsen, went on to make Rocky and The Karate Kid.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. A special thank you to Rory Brett for his patience and understanding.
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