Dennis Lynds' SLOT MACHINE KELLY was the dry run for another one-armed misfit private peeper based in the Big Apple, Dan Fortune, which he wrote under his Michael Collins pseudonym.
"Slot" showed up in thirteen short stories, mostly in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine back in the sixties. The 5'8'', 160-pound, slightly shady PI, proud of being "almost legal" for twenty years, shared several traits with Dan, including his distaste for violence, and his compassion for life's victims. He also shared some of Dan's pals, most notably tough cop Captain Gazzo of the NYPD and bartender Joe Harris, who actually narrates at least one of the stories.
But the stories are more than just an interesting footnote, and stand up very well on their own. "Slot" played it a bit looser than Dan, was a bit more willing to cut corners, perhaps, and his past was a considerably murkier, and darker. Still, many of the traits that make the Fortune books such a treat to read are already in place.
A few years ago, I pondered whether, maybe someday, some enterprising publisher will put 'em all in one volume, and concluded that "until then, they were worth tracking down." Well, it turns out that maybe, just maybe, Crippen & Landru were listening.
In 2005, Slot-Machine Kelly: The Complete Private Eye Cases of the One-Armed Bandit, a collection of almost the entire run, was released, complete with an intro by Robert J. Randisi. Was that cool, or what?
Prolific Dennis Lynds has also written as William Arden, John Crowe, Carl Dekker, and Mark Sadler. His most famous creation may be Dan Fortune, but he's also found time to create PI's Paul Shaw and Kane Jackson. He also wrote many of the Mike Shayne short stories for Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine under the monicker of Brett Halliday.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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