(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and frequent, more kink than think, and the attitudes towards various races and particularly women seem hopelessly outdated now, and frequently offensive even then, drawing the ire of many critics over the years, and raising more than a few questions about the author's own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."
-- Susan Berman
-- Publishers' Weekly on Timothy's Game
-- Kirkus Reviews on Timothy's Game
SHORT STORIES and NOVELLAS
Dated now, but a big hit when it was released, even with so much of the book toned down. Some pretty sharp casting helped.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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