Bill Rye

Created by John Spain (pseudonym of Cleve F. Adams, 1895-1949)

John Spain's BILL RYE is a cynical op whose description will probably remind you of Hammett's description of Sam Spade (or at least that's who I was reminded of). He works for a gent named Callahan, who raised himself from penniless immigrant to big-time operator and who now has plenty of political power (and enemies), along with plenty of family problems (a straying wife, a wild weakling son).

And now a woman shows up claiming to be his long-lost illegitimate daughter. People start getting killed, and the plot gets really complex. Rye isn't above bribery and perjury when it comes to protecting Callahan, and there's plenty of action, all done in the clean Black Mask style. Highly recommended.

Adams is of course the creator of notorious LA PIs Rex McBride and John J. Shannon, not to mention Violet McDade and her partner, Nevada Alvarado, two of the very first hardboiled lady eyes, who slugged their way through a string of stories in the pulps.


  • "The entire surviving cast of Dig Me a Grave, starring cynical Bill Rye, tangles with more L. A. murder and politics; the cast will be much smaller next time. Better-than-average hard stuff, but still more routine than the unforgettable first Spain."

--Anthony Boucher, October 10, 1943, on Death Is Like That.

  • "Bill Rye, related to Hammett's Ned Beaumont, is the leg man in this. It is as fast, hard and credible as its sequel (Death Is Like That) is not."

-- James Sandoe


  • Dig Me a Grave (1942)
  • Death Is Like That (1943)

Respectfully submitted by Bill Crider.

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