Day Keene

(pseud. for Gunnar Hjerstedt, 1904-1969)

Day Keene was half Swedish, and half Irish author Gunard and 100 per cent writer.

A familiar sight on the wire paperback racks of the 1950s, he started out writing for radio in the thirties on such shows as Little Orphan Annie and Kitty Keene, Inc. radio show, about a female private eye, which had a pretty decent run.

But that was just the start. By the 1940s, he had turned to the crime and detective pulps, where his wry wit and sly humour -- not to mention his talent for creating three-dimensional and often flawed male characters -- stood out in a field normally dominated by one-dimensional slabs of beef. Keene's short fiction appeared in such magazines as Black Mask, Ace G-Man Stories, Detective Tales, Dime Mystery and Manhunt.

But the the late forties he had moved on to longer works, focussing on paperback originals and even a few hardcovers. Sure, he churned out some crap, but what's amazing is how much of it was good stuff. He eventually penned over fifty novels, for such publishers as Avon, Gold Medal, Graphic and Ace, where he contributed more than a few doubles. He only created one recurring character, Los Angeles-based private eye Johnny Aloha.

Later on, as the paperback market (and tastes) began to change, he moved on once again, this time to writing for television, working on such shows as Burke's Law, Hawaiian Eye and Colt 45, while his 1960 novel Chautauqua was the basis for the 1969 Elvis flick The Trouble With Girls, one of the King's last acting roles.


Keene scripted many episodes of this radio soap, about a female private eye.


  • "It Could Happen Here" (September 1940, Ace G-Man Stories)
  • "Wake Up, America" (January 1941, Ace G-Man Stories)
  • "League of the Grateful Dead" (February 1941, Dime Mystery)
  • "Last of the Fighting Ainsleys" (September 1941, Ace G-Man Stories)
  • "What So Proudly We Hail" (October 1942, Ace G-Man Stories)
  • "Herr Yama From Yokohama" (February 1943, Ace G-Man Stories; 1988, The Super Feds)
  • "Rhapsody in Blood" (January 1943, Dime Mystery Magazine)
  • "Boy Kills Girl" (June 1944, Flynn's Detective Fiction)
  • "Dead As in Mackerel" (February 1945, Detective Tales)
  • "Dance With the Death House Doll" (May 1945, Detective Tales)
  • "Nothing to Worry About" (August 1945, Detective Tales)
  • "As Deep as the Grave" (January 1946, Detective Tales)
  • "Crawl Out of the Coffin" (September, Detective Tales)
  • "Fry Away, Kentucky Babe" (December 1947, Detective Tales)
  • "Marry the Sixth for Murder" (May 1948, Detective Tales)
  • "The Bloody Tide" (1950, Black Mask; 1996, The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction)
  • "A Better Mantrap" (Dangerous Dames)


  • Framed in Guilt (1949; aka "Evidence Most Blind")
  • Farewell to Passion (1951; aka "The Passion Murders")
  • My Flesh Is Sweet (1951)
  • Love Me and Die (1951)
  • To Kiss or Kill (1951)
  • Hunt the Killer (1952)
  • About Doctor Ferrel (1952)
  • Home Is the Sailor (1952)
  • If the Coffin Fits (1952)
  • Naked Fury (1952)
  • Wake Up to Murder 1952)
  • Mrs. Homicide (1953)
  • Strange Witness (1953)
  • The Big Kiss-Off (1954)
  • There Was A Crooked Man (1954)
  • Death House Doll (1954)
  • Homicidal Lady (1954)
  • Joy House (1954)
  • Notorious (1954)
  • Sleep with the Devil (1954)
  • Who Has Wilma Lathrop? (1955)
  • The Dangling Carrot (1955)
  • Murder on the Side (1956)
  • Bring Him Back Dead (1956)
  • It's a Sin to Kill 1958)
  • Passage to Samoa 1958)
  • Dead Dolls Don't Talk (1959)
  • Dead in Bed (1959; Johnny Aloha)
  • Moran's Woman (1959)
  • Miami 59 (1959)
  • So Dead My Lovely (1959)
  • Take a Step to Murder 1959)
  • Too Black for Heaven (1959)
  • Too Hot to Hold (1959)
  • The Brimstone Bed 1960)
  • Payola (Pyramid, 1960; Johnny Aloha)
  • Seed of Doubt
  • Bye, Baby Bunting (1963)
  • LA 46 (1964)
  • Carnival of Death (1965)
  • Chicago 11 (1966)
  • Acapulco Gpo (1967)


  • This is Murder, Mr. Herbert, and Other Stories (1948)
  • League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories (2010))..Buy this book


  • Guns Along the Brazos (western)
  • His Father's Wife (1954)
  • Chautauqua (1960)
  • World Without Women, w/ Leonard Pruyn (1960)
  • Southern Daughter (1967)
  • Live Again, Love Again (1970)
  • Wild Girl (1970)

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with special thanks to Al Guthrie for his help.

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