Dennis Lynds
(also known as Michael Collins, William Arden, John Crowe, Robert Hart Davis, Carl Dekker, Maxwell Grant, Mark Sadler, Sheila Lynds, Sheila McErlean, John Douglas, Walter Dallas; also house pseudonyms Nick Carter, Brett Halliday, Don Pendleton & Maxwell Grant)
(1924-2005)

"I just ask questions."
September 29, 2002,
Santa Barbara Book Festival

"I write mysteries to say something, not just for entertainment."
Santa Barbara News-Press, 1982.

One of the true masters of the private eye novel (and a class act all the way), Dennis Lynds, under his own and various pen names, has not only given us some genuinely memorable P.I.s, but has, in his own tough, quiet way, truly stretched the boundaries of the genre, bringing a sense of compassion and political awareness to a genre that too often gives little but lip service to such notions. Most notable of all is Lynds' series featuring his introspective, compassionate one-armed detective, Dan Fortune, written under the pen name of Michael Collins. The Fortune series is one of the few long-running P.I. series that has actually challenged one to think about things. And even better, not the same things every time.

It's just a crime the Fortune series has never gotten the acclaim or sales other far noisy and louder writers have. While other flashier, trendier writers, with their big turgid tomes, play it frustratingly safe, talkin' loud and sayin' nothin', all the while racketing up sales, Lynds has continued to take chances. Lynds, with his quiet, tough, empathetic voice and solid storytelling, speaks volumes. Dan Fortune not only talks the talk, but walks the walk, and offers the proof, if any were needed, that a detective novel can have a social conscience, and still ask hard questions. Like Natty Bumpo before him, Fortune dares "to speak the truth consarnin'...any man that lived." We need more like him.

But his contributions go far beyond just the Fortune books. He's also created private eyes Paul Shaw (as Mark Sadler) and Kane Jackson (as William Arden), and has written thrillers, a string of juvenile mysteries, and several novelizations. Under various housenames, he's written up the adventures of such icons as Charlie Chan, The Shadow and particularly Mike Shayne.

" 'Too Friendly, Too Dead' (which appeared in the September 1962 issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine) was the first novella I did for Leo Margulies and MSMM," Lynds recalls. "Dave (Davis Dresser) bought it from me, changed the title and rewrote it as a novel. He did that with at least two other of my novellas for MSMM, and I later wrote what I think was his final novel for him. Again he rewrote it. His rewrites were never much, just put more in his style, because his novels were pretty short. All in all I wrote some 88 of the novellas."

Lynds was also a prolific pen-for-hire, pumping out a steady stream of contracted works, including several novels in The Three Investigators series for young readers, particular favourites of mine as a kid, and hence a good part of the reason this site even exists. He also was responsible for several Shadow novels, under the house name of Maxwell Grant and a number of Nick Carter books, under that group name as well.

Dan Fortune himself is actually a more refined, socially- and politically-aware version of an earlier detective character of Lynds', Slot Machine Kelly, who appeared in several short stories in such pulp digests as Manhunt and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Another interesting series Lynds has written, under the pen name of John Crowe, is the Buena Costa County series, which takes its name from its setting, a fictional area along the southern California coast north of Los Angeles. There are recurring characters, but the detective varies from book to book. Sometimes it's a cop, sometimes an amateur sleuth, sometimes a member of the Border Patrol. And one book features private eye Lee Beckett. In his Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, William D'Andrea called this series Ross Macdonald-like, and went on to mention how Macdonald's work was a major influence on Lynds. It turns out that not only was he an influence, but also a good friend. In fact, Macdonald and Lynds were fellow residents of Santa Barbara.

Lynds was born in St. Louis in 1924, and grew up in New York, attending Brooklyn Technical High School. Her also attended The Cooper Union in New York and Texas A&M College before earning a B.A. in chemistry from Hofstra College in Hempstead, New York and an M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University.

He served in the infantry in WWII, receiving the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantry Badge, and three battle stars. Following the war, he was a chemist, and wrote and edited various trade magazines in that industry, until turning his hand to crime fiction in 1962, under his own, and soon, various pen names. A past president of The Private Eye Writers of America, Lynds was awarded that organization's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. He lived with his wife, fellow mystery writer Gayle Lynds, in Santa Barbara, and together they wrote several books together, including a couple in the Mack Bolan, The Executioner series, under the Don Pendleton house name.

Dennis' sudden passing in August 2005 caught us all by surprise, and the rapid outburst of emotion displayed by the mystery community was as effusive as it was heartfelt and genuine. Dennis in his work and his life touched a lot of people and there's a great big hole in the world now that he's gone. I've collected a few of the comments that hit the web in a days following his death.

I was fortunate enough to meet Dennis several times after I moved to California, and we corresponded a little, and I even got him to contribute a short piece to this site.

It's a shame the Dan Fortune seemed to be such a hot potato among publishers but, to his credit, Lynds never backed down. At the time of his death, he told me that there were still some short stories in the works, and he had another Fortune novel in mind, perhaps Dan's swan song. "If," Dennis added, "anyone wants to pay me some bucks for it."

Maybe we should have started passing a hat earlier. Suffice it to say that Dennis will be missed...

UNDER OATH

  • "A novelist of power and quality.... His (work) hums with life and feeling... one of the major imaginative creations in the crime field."
    -- Ross Macdonald

  • "To spin tales as intriguing and thought provoking as these for three decades is a remarkable enough achievement. Even more remarkable is the sustained quality... It takes style to bring that off. Bravery, too, of course."
    -- L.A. Times critic and mystery writer Dick Lochte, in a review of
    Fortune's World
    .
  • "The Cadillac Cowboy shows... Collins at his evocative, powerful best. Ford Morgan is the thinking man's detective for the '90s, and, as always, Collins' blend of politics and passion delivers a powerful punch. The issues resonate, the characters sing -- a truly fine novel."
    -- John Lescroart

AWARDS

  • Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award, for Best Novel, Act of Fear, 1968.
  • Mystery Writers of America "Special" Award, 1969, for "Succession of a Mission," (Argosy,
    April 1968), as by William Arden.
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kriminalliteratur Special Commendation for entire body of work, 1981
  • Private Eye Writers Of America, Shamus Nominee, 1984, 1993, 1995
  • President, Private Eye Writers Of America, 1985
  • Guest of Honor, 8th Festival du Roman et du Film Policiers,Reims, France, 1986
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Private Eye Writers Of America, 1988
  • Guest of Honor, La Ville Est Un Roman, Consiel General, Seine Saint-Denis, Paris, France, 1991
  • The Marlowe Award for Lifetime Achievement by Mystery Writers of America, Southern California, 2002

NOVELS
(All novels by Dennis Lynds, unless otherwise specified)

  • Combat Soldier (1962)
  • Uptown Downtown (1963)
  • The Shadow Strikes (1964; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Shadow Beware (1965; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Cry Shadow! (1965; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • The Shadow's Revenge (1965; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Mark Of The Shadow (1966; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Shadow--Go Mad! (1966; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • The Night Of The Shadow (1966; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • The Shadow: Destination: Moon (1967; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Act of Fear (1967; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Shadow: Destination Moon (1967; as Maxwell Grant; The Shadow)
  • Lukan War (1968; as Michael Collins; sci-fi)
  • A Dark Power (1968; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • Mask of Silence (1968; as Sheila McErlean)
  • The Mystery Of The Moaning Cave (1968; as William Arden; The Three Investigators). .Buy this book
  • The Mystery Of The Laughing Shadow (1969; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Deal in Violence (1969; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • The Brass Rainbow (1969; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Night of the Toads (1970; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Planets of Death (1970; as Michael Collins; sci-fi)
  • The Falling Man (1970; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • Deal In Violence (1970; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • The Goliath Scheme 1970; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • The Secret Of The Crooked Cat (1970; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Walk A Black Wind (1971; Dan Fortune)
  • Another Way to Die (1972, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • Die to a Distant Drum (1972; as William Arden; Kane Jackson; AKA Murder Underground)
  • A Touch of Darkness (1972, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • Here To Die (1972; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • Mirror Image (1972; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • The Mystery Of The Shrinking House (1972; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Woman in Marble (1972; as Carl Dekker; George Malcolm)
  • Die To a Distant Drum (1972; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • Shadow of a Tiger (1972; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Deadly Legacy (1973; as William Arden; Kane Jackson)
  • Circle of Fire (1973; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • The Silent Scream (1973; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Mystery Of The Blue Condor (1973; as William Arden)
  • The Secret Of Phantom Lake (1973; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Bloodwater (1974, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • Charlie Chan Returns (1974; novelisation of TV script)
  • The N3 Conspiracy (1974; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • The Mystery Of The Dead Man's Riddle (1974; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Blue Death (1975; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Crooked Shadows (1975, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • S.W.A.T.: Crossfire (1975; novelization of the TV series)
  • The Green Wolf Connection (1976; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • Triple Cross (1976; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • The Blood-Red Dream (1976; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Mystery Of The Dancing Devil (1976; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • When They Kill Your Wife (1977, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • The Mystery Of The Headless Horse (1977; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • The Nightrunners (1978; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Mystery Of The Deadly Double (1978; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Close To Death (1979, as John Crowe; Lee Beckett/Buena Costa County)
  • The Secret Of Shark Reef (1979; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • The Slasher (1980; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Touch of Death (1981; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • The Mystery Of The Purple Pirate (1982; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Freak (1983; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Mystery Of The Smashing Glass (1984; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • The Master Assassin (1986; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • Mercenary Mountain (1986; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • The Samurai Kill (1986; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • The Secret Of Wrecker's Rock (1986; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Minnesota Strip (1987; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Blood of the Falcon (1987; as Nick Carter; Nick Carter)
  • Red Rosa (1988; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Deadly Innocents (1988; as Mark Sadler; Paul Shaw)
  • Castrato (1989; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan: Blood Fever (1989; as Mark Sadler, with Gayle Lynd; The Executioner)
  • A Common Enemy (1989; as Mark Sadler, with Gayle Stone)
  • Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan: Moving Target (1989; as Mark Sadler, with Gayle Lynds; The Executioner)
  • The Three Investigators/Crimebusters No. 1: Hot Wheels (1989; as William Arden; The Three Investigators)
  • Chasing Eights (1990; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • The Irishman's Horse (1991; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune).. Buy this book
  • Cassandra in Red (1993; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune).. Buy this book
  • The Cadillac Cowboy (1995; as Michael Collins; Langford "Ford" Morgan & Roy Shepherd). .Buy this book
  • The Temple of the Golden Horde (2003, Charlie Chan) .. Buy this book
    Originally appeared in Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine in 1974.

COLLECTIONS

  • Why Girls Ride Sidesaddle (1980)
  • Crime, Punishment and Resurrection (1992; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune). .Buy this book
  • Talking To The World (1995)
  • Fortune's World (2000; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune). Buy this book
  • Spies and Thieves, Cops and Killers, Etc. (2002). Buy this book
    A collection of my non-Fortune, non-Kelly crime stories.
  • Slot-Machine Kelly: The Complete Private Eye Cases of the One-Armed Bandit (2005; Slot Machine Kelly). Buy this book

SHORT STORIES
(by Dennis Lynds, unless otherwise noted)

  • "It's Whiskey Or Dames" (August 1962, MSMM; ; aka "If the Whiskey Don't, the Women Will;" Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Dreamer" (September 1962, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Bodyguard" (October 1962, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "Accidents Will Happen" (November 1962, MSMM)
  • "Freedom Fighter" (Winter 1962-63, The Literary Review)
  • "The Carrier Pigeon" (February 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Blue Hand" (April 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Price of a Dollar" (June 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "Harness Bull" (July 1963, MSMM)
  • "Even Bartenders Die" (August 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "Death for Dinner" (October 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "Nobody Frames Big Sam" (October 1963, AHMM)
  • "The Heckler" (November 1963, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "A Better Murder" (January 1964, MSMM)
  • "No Way Out" (February 1964, MSMM; also Best Detective Stories Of The Year 1965; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "Homecoming" (1964, MSMM)
  • "Death, My Love" (1964, Mink Is For A Minx; as John Douglas)
  • "Man on The Run" (1964, Mink Is For A Minx; as Dennis Lynds)
  • "Where The Lines Meet" (March 1964, MSMM; as Walter Dallas)
  • "Silent Partner" (April 1964, AHHM)
  • "The Sinner" (May 1964, AHMM)
  • "Winner Pay All" (May 1964, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Man Who Lost His Head" (June 1964, MSMM; as Walter Dallas)
  • "Hard Cop" (July 1964, MSMM)
  • "No Loose Ends" (November 1964, MSMM)
  • "Full Circle" (January 1965, MSMM)
  • "The Hero" (May 1965, MSMM; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "A Well-Planned Death" (December 1965, MSMM)
  • "Viking Blood" (April-May 1966, Manhunt; also 1999, Pure Pulp; Slot Machine Kelly)
  • "The Dirk" (June 1966, Man From Uncle Magazine)
  • "The Sleeper" (October 1967, Man From Uncle Magazine; as Sheila Lynds)
  • "Climate Of Immorality" (1967, Shell Scott Mystery Magazine)
  • "Success Of A Mission" (April 1968, Argosy; as William Arden)
  • "Hot Night Homicide" (August 1968, MSMM)
  • "No One Likes to be Played for a Sucker" (July 1969, EQMM; First Cases; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Scream All the Way" (October 1969, AHMM; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Savage" (January 1970, Argosy; as William Arden)
  • "The Bizarre Case Expert" (June 1970, EQMM; as William Arden)
  • "Clay Pigeon" (March 1971, Argosy; also October 1986, Espionage; as William Arden)
  • "Long Shot" (July 1972, AHMM; also AHMM Borrowers of the Night; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Who?" (August 1972, AHMM; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Occupational Hazard" (September 1972, AHMM; as John Crowe)
  • "The Temple of the Golden Horde" (1974, Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine; as Robert Hart Davis)
  • "The Choice" (February 1973, AHMM; as Mark Sadler)
  • "The Woman Who Ruined John Ireland" (November 1983, AHMM; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune; aka "Dan Fortune and the Hollywood Caper")
  • "The Oldest Killer" (November 1983, The Thieftaker Journals; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Eighty Million Dead" (1984, The Eyes Have It; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "A Reason to Die" (September 1985, New Black Mask #2; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Killer's Mind" (June 1986, New Black Mask #6; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Motive" (1987, A Matter of Crime #2; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Homecoming" (1987, Uncollected Crimes)
  • "Black in the Snow" (1988, An Eye for Justice; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Crime and Punishment" (1988, A Matter of Crime #3; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Chair" (1990, Justice for Hire; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Role Model" (1992, Deadly Allies; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Big Rock Candy Mountains" (1992, Crime, Punishment and Resurrection; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Murder Is Murder (1992, Constable New Crimes 1; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Angel Eyes" (1994, Deadly Allies #2; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Culture Clash" (November 1994, EQMM; by Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "A Matter of Character" (1994, Partners in Crime; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Chocolate Cat" (1995, Cat Crimes Takes a Vacation; as Michael Collins)
  • "A Death in Montecito" (April 1995, EQMM; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "Can Shoot" (1998, Private Eyes; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "A Part Of History" (1999, Death By Espionage)
  • "Family Values" (2000, Fortune's World; as Michael Collins; Dan Fortune)
  • "The Horrible, Senseless Murders of Two Elderly Women," (2001, Fedora)
  • "Disney World" (May 2002, EQMM; Dan Fortune)
  • "Twilight's Last Gleaming" (2002, Flesh and Blood: Dark Desires; also 2003, Mystery: The Best of 2002; Dan Fortune).
  • "Next-Door Dave" (July 2004, EQMM; Dan Fortune).
  • "Someone" (2004, The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits; Dan Fortune)
  • "Dan Fortune Has His Say" (Summer 2005, Thrilling Detective Web Site; Dan Fortune)
    Not really a short story, more an op-ed piece.

NON-CRIME SHORT STORIES

  • "Trip West" (August 1951, The Bridge)
  • "Rites of Spring" (Spring 1954, Prairie Schooner)
  • "Man With The Turned-Down Hat" (1954, Embryo)
  • "The Island" (1954, Interim)
  • "Just Once More" (1955, New Voices No. 2)
  • "Yellow Gal" (1957, New World Writing)
  • "Victory" (1958, The Gent)
  • "A Blue Blonde In The Sky Over Pennsylvania" (1965, Best American Short Stories)
  • "The Glass Cage" (1964, The Minnesota Review)
  • "A Night In Syracuse" (1966, Beyond The Angry Black)
  • "Dr. Faustus, With Roses" (1980, December Magazine)
  • "Chimborazo" (1981, Black Messiah)
  • "Triptych" (1981, Western Humanities Review)
  • "Marriage and Death, Solitude and Confusion" (1981, Western Humanities Review)
  • "Night Class" (Winter 1982, Confrontation)
  • "The Country Of The Southern Ute" (1982, South Dakota Review)
  • "The Girl In White" (1982, South Dakota Review)
  • "War And Peace" (1986, Wind/Literary Review)
  • "The Mexican Waiter" (Winter 1986, Carolina Quarterly)
  • "In The Park" (Summer 1986, Connexions)
  • "After Auschwitz" (Spring 1987, South Dakota Review)
  • "Albert Magnus, Father Vitanza, And The Hammer" (Fall 1987, Puerto Del Sol)
  • "Ben" (April 1988, Cimarron Review)
  • "Chiaroscuro" (1988, New Mexico Humanities Review, Vol. 10. No. 2.)
  • "Takeda Shogun" (Spring 1988; South Dakota Review)
  • "The Belgian Woman" (April 1989, Cimarron Review)
  • "Charles Ives And The President Of The United States" (Winter 1990, South Dakota Review)
  • "Still Life With Doc Holliday" (1990, New Frontiers, Vol. II)
  • "The Tonton Macoute" (1992, Scene Magazine, Summer Reading Issue)
  • "Etude" (Spring/Summer 1993, Santa Barbara Review)
  • "The French Revolution" (Fall 1993, South Carolina Review)

COMIC ADAPTATION

  • "Who?" (1989, The Bank Street Book of Mystery)
    A 1972 Dan Fortune story recast as a 1948-set tale, featuring one-armed private investigator Nick Fortune.

RELATED LINKS

  • Dennis Lynds
    It may have taken a while, but Dan Fortune's creator finally got his own site. Albeit perhaps a little reluctantly. Here's how he announced it in March 2000: "Please forgive this mass e-mail, but did want you to know that not only did the Berlin Wall go down, so did my resistance to having a website, although it took me another 13 years." Eerily, it's still live, and features an extensive bibliography, a list of his numerous awards, ordering info on his books, even some of his short stories, including one of his last stories, the Edgar-nominated "The Horrible, Senseless Murders of Two Elderly Women."

  • Dennis Lynds, 1924-2005
    The Mystery Community Pays Their Respects...

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Photograph by Chris Gardner. Thanks, Dennis, for everything.


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