Bookie Barnes
Created by Robert Reeves (1912-45)

Reminescent at times of Frank Gruber and Norbert Davis, Robert Reeves is one of those pulpsters whose work has been sadly forgotten. Best known for creating private eye Cellini Smith, he also created trougle-prone hard-boiled truckdriver and "highway detective" BOOKIE BARNES, who appeared in just three short stories.

And I wasn't kidding about trouble-prone.

In "Over a Barrel" (March 1942, Dime Detective) for example, Bookie's precious cargo of Havana tobacco is hijacked and a corpse is left behind in the bed of his 10-ton rig.

Robert Reeves was one of those promising young writers who died all too soon. He was born in New York City, and graduated from New York University. Before turning to writing, he was active in New York City theatre, as a stage manager for the Theatre Guild and boasted of a degree in anthropology. In the summer of 1942, Reeves, then all of thirty, enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Air Corps, serving in the 500th Bombardment Squadron of the 345th Bombardment Group in the South Pacific. Reeves was killed, possibly in a plane crash or a jeep accident, only only a month before the war ended.


  • "Murder in High Gear" (August 1941, Black Mask)
  • "Over a Barrel" (March 1942, Dime Detective)
  • "Murder Without Death" (June 1942, Dime Detective)


  • The Short Career of Robert Reeves
    John L. Apostolou's look at the career of Cellini Smith's creator, originally published in
    The Armchair Detective. Currently MIA.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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