Tony Costaine and Bert McCall
Created by Neil MacNeil (pseud. of Willis Todhunter Ballard; other pseuds. include P. D. Ballard, Harrison Hunt and John Shepherd)

TONY COSTAINE and BERT McCALL were these two high-flying, happy-go-lucky high-priced eyes who made like a couple of swinging dicks in the Rat Pack era of the late fifties/early sixties. But never let it be said that these very swinging, very cool and cocky bruisers ever let their pursuit of all things female ever (well, hardly ever) interfere with their very successful and profitable business. In fact, the Costaine and McCall Investigative Agency, which specialized in solving business problems, was so successful that they routinely asked for (and got) $20,000 as a typical starting fee. And that's in 1950's bucks!

Of course, for that much moolah, their clients got two of the most efficient and qualified investigators in the biz, with well-deserved reputations for their smarts and toughness. They're both former agents for the FBI and OSS. Tony, educated at Dartmouth and the Columbia Law School, is a big strapping fellow, with movie star looks, who dresses sharp, and acts as the brains of the outfit. Not that Bert's some dummy, but his expertise tends to the more physical part of the job. He's a rugged six-foot five and three-quarters of an inch tall and weighs in at a well-built two hundred and fifty pounds, drinks Scotch by the case, and plays the bagpipes.

Tony and Bert appeared in several enjoyable books, all reportedly witty and well-written, not to mention fun and frothy, and filled with lucious and often willing babes.

Their clients tended to be from the corporate world, and often involved the shenanigans and misfortunes of various exectives, corporate-level fraud, industrial sabotage, and the like, but often took a wacky turn. In Hot Dam, for example, the blurb promises an unfinished dam, a whisky mine, "murderers, salacious Scots, and kidnappers in kilts." and in their final outing, The Spy Catchers (1966), they're out to stop a revolutionary weapon, a cosmic death ray gun, from falling into the wrong hands.

Neil MacNeil was actually W.T. Ballard, one of the more prolific and talented of the pulpsters, who continued writing novels long after the pulp market dried up. He also wrote about Hollywood trouble shooter Bill Lennox, as well as P.I.'s Sam Boyd and Mark Foran, not to mention numerous books in other genres, particularly westerns.


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