Bill Lennox

Created by W.T. Ballard (Willis Todhunter Ballard, pseuds P. D. Ballard, Harrison Hunt, Neil MacNeil and John Shepherd; 1903-1980)

Here's another private eye who's officially not a private eye. Seems the pulps were full of 'em. BILL LENNOX started out in the pages of Black Mask in 1933, as an ex-reporter and publicity flack before becoming a trouble shooter for General Consolidated Pictures, a big-time Hollywood studio. Never afraid to get tough when it was called for, Bill seems to have impressed his employers, because by the time he graduated to novels, he'd become an executive producer. But rest assured that murder and mayhem, in true pulp tradition, seemed to follow him...

It should be mentioned, by the way, that despite being in the constant company of various Hollywood beauties, Lennox remained pure of heart and true to his girlfriend Nancy Hobbs, throughout the series.

Bill's last appearance was in 1960's Lights, Camera, Murder!, which was released under the pseudonym of John Shepherd, for some reason. A few years later, the very first Lennox novel, Say Yes To Murder, was reprinted, under the title of The Demise of Louise, also by Leonard. It seems by that the sixties, Ballard had gained quite a rep as a writer of westerns, and didn't want to confuse his audience.

Ballard was one of the fabled Black Mask Boys, and Lennox was one of the magazine's most popular characters, and his gig as a "troubleshooter" paved the way for several other non-P.I. P.I.s, including house dick Gil Vine, department store dick Don Cadee, and more recently, TV network snoop Matt Cobb.

Author Willis Todhunter Ballard was one of the more prolific and talented pulpsters, writng mostly westerns and mysteries, and he continued writing novels long after the pulp market dried up. He wrote novels about P.I.'s Sam Boyd and Mark Foran, and as Neil McNeil he wrote about the private eye team of Tony Costaine and Bert McCall. After WWII, when Ballard claimed that you couldn't even give detective stories away, he turned to writing westerns as Todhunter Ballard. In fact, the novel Gold in California won a Spur award, and much of his western short story work is great. He also had a knack for romantic comedy. Unfortunately, those stories are mostly buried in the pulps.


  • Ballard was the first cousin of creator Rex Stout, with whom he shared a middle name (Todhunter).


  • "A Little Different" (September 1933, Black Mask)
  • "Positively the Best Liar" (November 1933, Black Mask)
  • "A Million Dollar Tramp (October 1933, Black Mask)
  • "Trouble-Hunted" (January 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Tears Don't Help" (April 1934, Black Mask)
  • "That's Hollywood" (May 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Whatta Guy" (July 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Crime's Web" (September 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Snatching is Dynamite" (October 1934, Black Mask)
  • "In Dead Man's Alley" (November 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Murder Isn't Legal" (December 1934, Black Mask)
  • "Gambler’s Don’t Win" (April 1935, Black Mask).. Kindle it!
  • "Numbers With Lead" (January 1936, Black Mask)
  • "Blackmailers Die Hard" (May 1936, Black Mask)
  • "There's No Excuse for Murder" (September 1936, Black Mask)
  • "Whipsawed" (December 1936, Black Mask)
  • "This is Murder" (March 1937, Black Mask)
  • "Fortune Deals Death" (July 1937, Black Mask)
  • "Mobster Guns" (November 1938, Black Mask)
  • "No Parole from Death" (February 1939, Black Mask)
  • "Scars of Murder" (November 1939, Black Mask)
  • "Pictures for Murder" (September 1940, Black Mask)
  • "The Lady with the Light Blue Hair" (January 1941, Black Mask)
  • "Not in the Script" (July 1941, Black Mask)
  • "Murder is a Sweet Idea" (November 1941, Black Mask)
  • "The Colt and the Killer" (February 1942, Black Mask)
  • "Lights, Action—Killer!" (May 1942, Black Mask)


  • Say Yes to Murder (1942; aka "The Demise of a Louse") . Buy this book
  • Murder Can't Stop (1946; also Winter 1949, 2 Mystery Novels) . Buy this book
  • Dealing Out Death (1948)
  • The Murder in Hollywood (1951)
  • Lights, Camera, Murder (1960; as by John Shepherd)


  • Hollywood Troubleshooter: Five Novelettes From Black Mask (1984) . Buy this book

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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