Created by Thomas Wills (pseudonym of William Ard; 1922-1960)
When we first meet BARNEY GLINES in the noirish You'll Get Yours (1952), published by the notorious Lion Books, a seedy, paperback house of the early fifties, he's a New York private eye with a rep for integrity, a long way from home. He's in a Mexican flophouse where he's come to kill a man.
But, as James Reasoner recalled in a 2006 blog, "Someone beats him to it... and from there the story backtracks to how and why Barney set out on this murderous quest. The yarn includes a beautiful actress, stolen diamonds, blackmail photos, strippers, vicious junkies, and a particularly brutal murder for which Barney is framed. In other words, all the stuff you need for a good private eye novel."
It's certainly full of all kinds of juicy, pulpy goodness: society dames, sleazy playboys, blackmailers, junkie strippers, stolen diamonds, lots of gunfire and some hot mattress pounding. The publisher's tried to suggest the book was as "Fast as Hammett, sharp as Chandler, tough as Spillane" but Stephen Mertz found the book more "obviously patterned after the work of James M. Cain."
In the second novel, Mine to Avenge (1955), Barney goes undercover "as a rogue cop to smash a criminal ring and encounters in the process just about every cliché and corny improbability you choose to name," according to Anthony Boucher, apparently unaware who Wills was. "But the telling is fast, readable and economic enough to sound like William Ard in an off moment."
Gee, ya think?
By the way, author Dane evidently had a thing for the Barney Glines monicker. This would not be the first -- or the last -- time that he would use the name.
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 Timothy Dane, Lou Largo, and Johnny Stevens (all of which come highly recommended), as well as a string of well-regarded westerns (as Jonas Ward). Other pseudonyms included Ben Kerr and Mike Moran.
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.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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