Saturday, April 07, 2012
Back in the day, when I was reading hardboiled detective books hand over fist, Robert J. Randisi edited a series of short story collections featuring a bunch of P.I. stories, beginning with The Eyes Have It in 1984. These were great books, featuring folks I was already reading like Max Allan Collins, Loren D. Estleman, and Lawrence Block, and also introducing me to new writers. One of the discoveries I made from this first volume was L. J. Washburn and her very original and nifty P.I., Lucas Hallam.
Hallam was different because he was a former gunfighter from the old west and a former Pinkerton detective. Now in private practice, he worked in Hollywood in the 1920s, supplementing his income by doing movie stunt work in silent westerns. The first adventure I read, the eponymous story, Hallam, took him into the glitzy world of L.A. offshore gambling and the crooks who ran it. Fistfights, gunfights, ratiocination. Everything you could want from a detective story and a cowboy adventure, told in straightforward, often humorous prose.
I went on to read what other short stories and novels I could find about the Hallam character over the years, including a very cool story, Boom Town Bandits, that featured none other than Robert E. Howard as a character. This was in the collection Cross Plains Universe, which you should track down now if you don't have it.
Anyway, while I was researching Western writer Ben Haas, I learned from James Reasoner's blog Rough Edges, that there's a collection of Washburn's Hallam short stories and novellas, called simply Hallam, available for the Kindle. It's currently just .99 cents too. I highly recommend this collection. These are really really fun stories, and a great introduction to Hallam. And if you like the stories, several more of the Hallam books are now available in Kindle format.