The Three Barney Glines of William Ard

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BARNEY GLINES was a private eye created by William Ard, one of the most successful (but now, criminally forgotten) hard-boiled writers of the fifties.

But it's a little more complicated than that. You see, as inventive and creative and clever a writer as Ard was, he had one major bugaboo. He would constantly change characters' names. Or, in the case of Barney Glines, casually recycle the name for various characters.

The first Barney Glines appeared in two novels, You'll Get Yours (1952) and Mine To Avenge (1955), written under the Thomas Willis pseudonym that Ard occasionally used.

But a year after the second book appeared, another Barney Glines, an older New York private eye, showed up in one of the later Timothy Dane novels, Cry Scandal (1956). While searching for Glines, who's gone missing, Dane recalls how the older detective took the young whippersnapper under his wing, and how the more scrupulous Dane and his mentor eventually parted ways when Glines started cutting too many corners. This Glines seems to be a completely different private eye from the one who was featured in the Willis books.

And then yet another Barney Glines popped up, as a major supporting character character in two interconnected novels, As Bad As I Am (1959) and When She Was Bad (1960), about a young ex-con named Mike Fontaine. Mike's in a jam, and a private detective named Barney helps him out and decides to take him on as an assistant. By the second novel, Mike's a full-fledged private eye himself, and his name's been changed to Danny. Just to sweeten the mix, the first novel was subsequently re-titled Wanted: Danny Fontaine. This Glines, however, seems to be a completely different character from the first two.

A long-time favourite of mine, Brooklyn-born Ard was one of the unjustly forgotten hard-boiled writers of the fifties. An ex-Marine, a publicist and copywriter, he also worked for a brief time, just after WWII , as a detective. His career burned bright but fast, lasting little more than a decade , but in that time he mananaged to create several intriguing New York private eyes Timothy Dane, Lou Largo, and Johnny Stevens (all of which come highly recommended), as well as a string of well-regarded westerns (as Jonas Ward). Other pseudonyms included Ben Kerr and Mike Moran.

RELATED LINKS

Dennis Miller's fascinating profile of one of the genre's sadly forgotten writers.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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