Ghost Writers

Have Pen, Will Travel

The P.I. genre, like most genres, abounds with pen names and pseudonyms, but it also has plenty of ghost writers. Sometimes, it's actually a real writer who employs a ghost, but more often than not, it's some celebrity whose "work" is actually ghosted.

Real Authors Who Used Ghosts

  • Brett Halliday

Used a string of ghosts to pen numerous novels and short stories featuring Mike Shayne. For the complete list, see Who Was Brett Halliday?

  • Leslie Charteris

The prolific creator of The Saint turns out to be not quite as prolific as suspected.

  • Ernest Tidyman

The latter Shaft books were ghosted, although it seems Tidyman kept an eye on things.

  • Ellery Queen

No, Ellery' -- the character -- is not a P.I., but I think it's sort of interesting that this well-respected writing team, a corner stone of crime fiction, eventually employed other writers to turn out paperbacks (which were often miles away from the original concept of the character).

Celebrity Authors and Their "Collaborators"

Although ghost writers usually aren't credited at all, sometimes they're listed as "collaborators." Who wrote what is anybody's guess...

  • Willard Scott (Bill Crider)

The popular weatherman wrote two books featuring weatherman/amateur sleuth Stanley Waters with Bill Crider, the creator of Galveston P.I. Truman Smith.

  • Peter Duchin (John Morgan Wilson)

The popular bandleader and wrote Blue Moon and Good Morning, Heartache, both featuring bandleader/amateur sleuth Philip Damon, with Edgar Award-winning writer John Morgan Wilson, the creator of Benjamin Justice.

  • Christopher Darden (Dick Lochte)

The infamous prosecuting attorney from the O.J. Simpson Case has written several crime novels with P.I. writer Lochte, the creator of private eyes Leo Bloodworth and Serendipity Dahlquist, Terry Manion and Dave "Mace" Mason.

  • Al Roker (Dick Lochte)

Dick again, this time "collaborating" with the Today Show weatherman on several mysteries. Al, Dick says, has "some very interesting ideas."

Celebrity Authors and Their Ghosts

Often the celebrity doesn't admit the ghostwriter's existence at all, although some of them at least offer a slow wink to others in the writing and publishing trade.

  • Steve Allen (Walter J. Sheldon and Robert Westbrook)

Allen's first mystery novel, The Talk Show Murders (1982), obstensibly a P.I. caper, was in part ghostwritten by Walter J. Sheldon, while his nine subsequent mystery novels were partially ghosted by Robert Westbrook

  • William Shatner (Ron Goulart)

And sopeaking of poorly kept secrets, many of the novels attributed to T.J. Hambone, including the Tek War series featuring P.I. Jake Cardigan, were actually written by Ron Goulart, the creator of a zillion bizarro sci-fi eyes and relatively straight seventies gumshoe John Easy.

The actor's Crime on My Hands (1944) and Stranger at Home (1946) were actually ghosted by these two fine ladies, respectively, although Sanders had the class to dedicate each book to its real author.

Rice strikes again! The famous stripper's The G-String Murders (1941) and Mother Finds a Body (1942), both of which feature Lee as a detective, have long been attributed to Craig Rice, although recent evidence suggests that Rose wrote them mostly on her own.

  • Helen Traubel (Harold Q. Masur)

The opera singer 's The Metropolitan Opera Murders (1951) was actually written by the creator of hard-boiled shyster Scott Jordan.

  • George Kennedy (Walter J. Sheldon)

The actor's paperback mysteries (Murder On Location, etc.), which cast the actor himself in the lead role as an amateur sleuth, were actually the work of mystery author Sheldon.

See also...

Hmmm...sounds like a case for Mike Shayne.

Real ghosts?


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