Rex McBride

Created by Cleve F. Adams (aka John Spain and Franklin Charles; 1895-1949)

"An American Gestapo is goddam well what we need... The only way you can lick these guys is to fight as dirty as they do... bite and gouge and use a knee where it will do most good."

-- Rex shows he's a man for the ages in Murder All Over (1943)

Hot-tempered, crude, sexist, racist REX McBRIDE appeared in six novels by Cleve F. Adams.

Adams was a contemporary and apparently a good pal of Raymond Chandler. But while Chandler's Marlowe was the classic tarnished knight going down those mean streets, clinging to a personal code of honour, working outside the system, perhaps, but generally staying within the lines drawn by that system, McBride was something else entirely.

As Richard Moore put it on Rara-Avis once:

"(McBride) was a cretin, famous for his statement that 'an American Gestapo is goddamned well what we need.' Marlowe became the model for the future, the classic tarnished knight. McBride, for the few who have read him, is one of the most repugnant characters in detective fiction history. Lessons learned."

Perhaps, but Adams was also quite popular in his day, cranking out a couple of dozen books, spitting them out like they were nails, all hard and to the point. He also created P. I., John J. Shannon, who at least has some redeeming qualities, and even more surprisngly, Violet McDade and her Hispanic partner, Nevada Alvarado, two of the very first hard-boiled lady eyes, who slugged their way through a string of stories in the pulps.


  • "A guy can take care of his enemies. Friends are just a plain damned nuisance."


  • Sabotage (1940)
  • And Sudden Death (1940)
  • Decoy (1941)
  • Up Jumped the Devil (1943 aka "Murder All Over")
  • The Crooking Finger (1944)
  • Shady Lady (1955)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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