Mac

Created by Thomas B. Dewey (1915-81)

"It may be that the recent white Anglo-Saxon Christian struggle to canonize the informer will be lost in the rivers and back streets of America, where "rat" is still spelled with three letters and the only way to save your life is to lose it. The thing about a code, whether you go for its objectives or not, is that it works. When it stops working, it stops being a code."

-- You've Got Him Cold

The missing link between Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer, Thomas B. Dewey's MAC was the original compassionate eye, setting the stage for Archer, Dan Fortune, Bill Pronzini's Nameless, et al -- and one of the most must-read private eyes you've never heard of.

But don't read the Mac books for their historical significance. read 'em because they're great.

Mac's turf was Chicago, and he went down those mean streets (the actual title of one of his novels) toting a sensitivity and empathy, particularly for young people, that stood in stark contrast to the popular P.I. psycho-dramas of the time. He was obviously inspired by Chandler, but the sharpness of Marlowe's vision was replaced by a gentler irony, and although he could could handle himself when push came to shove, he also displayed a vulnerabilty and quiet intelligence and compassion that was surprising for the genre -- then and now.

Also created P.I. Pete Schofield, who solved his cases with the aid of his wife, Jeannie, and hotel owner and amateur sleuth Singer Batts.

UNDER OATH

  • "I haven't found a Mac novel that I didn't enjoy."

-- J. Kingston Pierce

NOVELS

  • Draw the Curtain Close (1947)
  • Every Bet's a Sure Thing (1953)
  • Prey for Me (1954)
  • The Mean Streets (1954)
  • The Brave, Bad Girls (1956)
  • You've Got Him Cold (1958)
  • The Case of the Chased and the Chaste (1959)
  • How Hard to Kill (1962)
  • A Sad Song Singing (1963)
  • Don't Cry for Long (1964)
  • Portrait of a Dead Heiress (1965)
  • Deadline (1966)
  • Death and Taxes (1967)
  • The King Killers (1968)
  • The Love-Death Thing (1969)
  • The Taurus Trip (1970)

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Big Job" (1965, The Saint's Mystery Magazine)

RELATED LINKS

A brief bio, taken from Brian Ritt's Paperback Confidential (2013).

J. Kingston Pierce's telling June 2014 take on Dewey, from Kirkus.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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