Ben Jardinn

Created by Raoul Whitfield (pseudonyms: Ramon Decolta; 1896-1945)

"I'm after a killer, man or woman. It's my business. I'll take your money...I'll take anyone's money, if I can give something for it. This isn't a hobby with me. I don't work in a library, or go into trances. I don't dope out involved codes. And I don't bother too much with the D.A.'s office or the harness bulls."

-- Jardinn, staking his turf

One of the all-time great hard-boiled eyes! BEN JARDINN first appeared in the pages of Black Mask in 1930 in the first of three stories that would later be published collectively as the hard-boiled classic Death in a Bowl (1931).

Ben's runs a small Los Angeles detective agency on Hollywood Boulevard, a couple of blocks from Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and he's a pretty tough, cynical character, "cold as hell," hard through and through, although he does seem to have a soft spot for "Irish," the nickname he's given his head secretary/receptionist, Carol Torney. Jardinn likes money, and he suspects everyone and trusts no one, even his own employeees. He may have been a cop once -- he certainly seems to know a lot of people on the force.

He may occasionally seem soft-spoken, and may even display an unexpected fondness for classical music (although he admits he doesn't "know much about it") but make no mistake -- Jardinn's the real deal.

As is his creator, pulpster Raoul Whitfield, often considered one of the truly great Black Mask boys, only a fraction behind such contemporaries as Hammett, who was a drinking buddy, or Chandler. Whitfield also created disgraced spy/ eye Donald Free, and, under the pen name of Ramon DeCorta, Island detective Jo Gar.


  • "I hate a rat--male or female! I'll break your damned, white neck--"

-- Jardinn shows how well he's overcome the gender bias so prevalent in the genre...

  • "Business is business...and pleasure is pleasure."

  • Suspect: "Do I look like a killer?"
  • Jardinn: "I never saw a man who looked like one...You look like a liar to me--I've seen them before."

  • "You're too damned good-looking to hang."

  • "So many humans like to tell lies...It's hell finding out what really happens."


  • "A hard-boiled tale capitally told"

-- The Saturday Review of Literature


  • "Death in a Bowl, Part One" (September 1930, Black Mask)
  • "Death in a Bowl, Part Two" (October 1930, Black Mask)
  • "Death in a Bowl, Part Three" (November 1930, Black Mask)
  • "Murder by Request" (January 1933, Black Mask)
  • "Dark Death" (August 1933, Black Mask)



Some great private eyes who've appearred in only one novel.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with a special thanks to Jim Doherty for his help.

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