In his time, Lawrence Sanders ranked right up there in popularity with Stephen King, Danielle Steele and only a handful of other newsstand rack superstars, so much so that his name is more prominent on the covers of his books than their titles, and this has may have contributed to his not being taken very seriously among fans of this genre.
Too bad. Despite a reputation as the Robin Leach of the detective novel, perhaps best remembered now for his frothy, padded paperbacks of technology, sex and the peccadilloes of the rich and famous, Sanders wrote some damn entertaining, and even provocative and influential books in several crime genres, from capers to thrillers to police procedurals and yes, even private eyes.
A journalist for over twenty years, working for such publications as Mechanics Illustrated and Science and Mechanics, Sanders kept plugging away at writing fiction. A series of short stories featuring hardboiled insurance investigator Wolf Lannihan appeared in the pages of the skin mag, Swank, in 1968-69, but his real break came with the publication of The Anderson Tapes in 1970, and the subsequent hit 1972 film.
The Anderson Tapes introduced New York cop Edward X. Delaney. It won the Edgar for Best First Mystery Novel from The Mystery Writers of America and spawned a hit movie, and began a long line of novels (at least thirty) that, for the most part, shot right up the bestseller lists.
In 1973, Delaney returned in The First Deadly Sin, which also eventually was filmed in 1980, with Frank Sinatra as Delaney. Sanders went on to write three more procedurals featuring Delaney in his "Sin" series.
In fact, Sanders was responsible for several series characters, most of them private investigators of some sort. Joshua is yet another of Lawrence Sanders' almost-private eyes, most of whom work for large corporations and whose dealings invariably involve looking into the various cracks in the facades of the rich and famous. A case could be made for Sanders being the Robin Leach of the detective novel. Check out the "Commandment series, with investigators Dora Conti, Samuel Todd or Joshua Bigg, or the two Timothy Cone books. And if you're in the mood for something a bit breezier, you could try glib, easy-going Archie McNally, who makes the moneyed society of Palm Beach his stomping ground.
After Sanders' death in 1998, the question arose, half-jokingly, I think, as to whether Sanders, in fact, actually wrote the McNally books. The first McNally published post-humously, McNally's Dilemma (1999), had Sanders' name prominently displayed on the cover, but the copyright page revealed that someone named Vincent Lardo had been chosen by the family to continue the series. As one reader remarked, "Lardo has either captured the style perfectly, or he wrote the earlier books, too."
And another reader of this site, Jim Roche, wrote to say "In fact, I believe Lawrence Sander's heir disputed the right of the publisher to continue to use Sanders' name when, in fact, the books were being written by Vincent Lardo. However, the litigation failed and the publishers proceeded with publication."
SHORT STORIES and NOVELLAS
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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