Lawrence Sanders

(pseuds: Lesley Andress, Mark Upton; 1920-98)

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.

Sure, the sex was sleazy and frequent, more kink than think, and the attitudes towards various races and particularly women seem hopelessly outdated now, and frequently offensive even then, drawing the ire of many critics over the years, and raising more than a few questions about the author's own sexuality. But man, could the guy spin a yarn.

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 hard-boiled 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 his first novel in 1969.

That book, The Anderson Tapes, told the story of a carefully plotted plan to rob an entire apartment building in New York City, told entirely through a series of transcripts of clandestine wiretaps and interviews conducted by various public and private law enforcement and security agencies, and was considered heady stuff in that pre-Watergate era. It became an immediate bestseller, and also introduced, in a relatively small role, coldly methodical NYPD detective Edward X. "Iron Balls" Delaney. It won the Best First Mystery Edgar from The Mystery Writers of America and spawned a hit movie in 1972 starring Sean Connery as the mastermind behind the heist, 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, who often work for large corporations and whose dealings invariably involve looking into the various cracks in the facades of the rich and famous. 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."


  • "I always thought "Lawrence Sanders" was the pen name for some woman (maybe, I don't know, Loretta Sanders?) because Mr. Sanders always did such a wonderful job in characterizing women and understanding how they think. Take "Dunk" in The Eighth Commandment, the tall woman who became an expert on collectable coins, for example. I sort of figured, back when Lawrence Sanders started writing, that maybe a woman would have had a more difficult time getting detective stories published than a man would. After all, the detectives described were men, all crusty and wise to the ways of the world. Yes, I saw the pictures of Mr. Sanders on the back of his novel, but who was to say that was really him?
    But I now know the truth. It is nice to know that one single person has (or had) the talent to describe the instincts and inner mental workings of both sexes.
    Lawrence Sanders was my very favorite author to read on vacation. His novels took me on a mental vacation from all the responsibilites and demands of work, keeping me concentrating on the characters in his books rather than letting my mind drift back to matters at work. I will miss Lawrence Sanders, the author and the man, to be sure."

-- Susan Berman

  • "What Sanders doesn't know about insider trading, crooked takeover bids, blackmail, greenmail and the way cops and racketeers think and talk is nobody's business. And he knows quite a bit about human psychology, too."

-- Publishers' Weekly on Timothy's Game

  • "... an uneven, crass mass-producer."

-- Kirkus Reviews on Timothy's Game



  • "Manhattan After Dark" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Rogue Man" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Bloody Triangle" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Man Who Didn't Come Back" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Woman in the Lake" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "A String of Blues" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Case of the Purloined Princess" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "Death of a Model" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Girl in the Office" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Curse of the Upper Classes" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Ice Gang" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "An Introduction To Murder" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Case of the Missing Nude" (1968-69, Swank Magazine; Wolf Lannihan)
  • "The Wall Street Dick" (1987, The Timothy Files; Timothy Cone)
  • "The Whirligig Action"(1987, The Timothy Files; Timothy Cone)
  • "A Covey of Cousins" (1987, The Timothy Files; Timothy Cone)
  • "Run, Sally, Run" (1988, Timothy's Game; Timothy Cone)
  • "A Case of the Shorts" (1988, Timothy's Game; Timothy Cone)
  • "One From Column A" (1988, Timothy's Game; Timothy Cone)



  • THE ANDERSON TAPES ...Watch it now
    Directed by Sidney Lumet
    Starring Sean O'Connery as "Duke" Anderson
    Also starring Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, Ralph Meeker, Alan King, Christopher Walken, Garrett Morris

Dated now, but a big hit when it was released, even with so much of the book toned down. Some pretty sharp casting helped.

    Directed by Brian G. Hutton
    Starring Frank Sinatra as Frasncis X. Delaney
    Also starring Faye Dunaway, David Dukes, Brenda Vaccaro, Martin Gabel, James Whitmore

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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