Robert J. Randisi
Pseudonyms include Robert Leigh, Joe Roberts,W. B. Longley, Robert Lake, Spenser Fortune, Joshua Randall, Tom Cutter, J.R. Roberts, Joseph Meek, Cole Weston, Lew Baines, Paul Ledd, Spencer Fortune and Jon Sharpe; house pseudonyms include Nick Carter and Warren Murphy.
'Stages of development' are for people who write one book a year.
-- Bob would discuss this further, but he's got a book to write.
He's been called a hack. He's been called astonishingly prolific. He's been called "the last of the great pulp writers."
He refers to himself as "the world's biggest private eye nut," and certainly, more than anyone else Robert J. Randisi has fought to ensure that P.I. fiction gets some respect.
No, not just through his many splendid contributions to the genre in the form of his fictional eyes creations of Miles Jacoby, Henry Po, Nick Delvecchio or a host of others, as entertaining as they may be, but through his tireless promotion of the genre through his numerous non-fiction articles, his co-founding, with Ed Gorman, of Mystery Scene magazine and most of all through his founding of The Private Eye Writers of America in 1981.
With its annual Shamus Awards, which recognize excellence in the genre, its encouragement of young writers, through a contest run in conjunction with St. Martins Press, and its high visibilty throughout the world of mystery fandom, the PWA has worked steadily through the years to make sure the genre remains not just respected, but vital and potent.
And Bob's no love-'em-and-leave-'em kinda guy -- despite annual presidents (all private eye writers themselves) Bob still pretty much runs the show. If Bob says "no," the PWA don't go.
Not to slight his fiction, mind you. Booklist may damn him with faint praise, tagging him as "the astonishingly prolific Randisi... (who) may be one of the last true pulp writers, earning his living through quantity more than quality..." but his P.I. work, the one genre for which he reserves his real name, is generally excellent, full of sharp dialogue, generally deft characterization, smart plotting and a fine, fine sense of setting, particularly those that take place in New York City. There's also a good deal of wit, and more than a few sly winks and pokes at other writers' work.
But that's just one slice of the Randisi pie.
Even more amazingly, the bulk of Randisi's work isn't even in private eye fiction--he claims to have written over 500 novels in various genres, under a slew of pseudonyms.
How many pseudonyms? He himself said, in a 2011 Barnes & Noble interview that there were "Probably around sixteen, at this point. I don't think I've forgotten any. Most of those were used during the 80's, when I was writing twenty books a year--twenty-seven in 1984! This is probably the major difference between publishing today and then. It would be very difficult for an author to write that many books a year these days, although I'm still doing about fifteen or so."
In fact, Randisi's biggest claim to literary immortality may not even lay in the mystery genre -- it just may be the 400 or so western novels he's pumped out, under a dozen or so different names, including at least nine or so different series, the longest running of which is The Gunsmith series (over 300 books, and counting), which he writes as J.R. Roberts. A card-carrying member of The Western Writers of America, he's also written and created The Tracker series (as Tom Cutter); the Angel Eyes series (W.B. Longely): The Bounty Hunter series (as Joshua Randall); the Mountain Jack Pike series (as Joseph Meek); and the Ryder series (as Cole Weston). He has also written as Lew Baines, Paul Ledd, Jon Sharpe and Robert Lake.
Mind you, many of Randisi's westerns owe as much to private eye fiction as they do to the standard horse opera fare. Many feature hired guns, lone lawmen and Pinkerton agents, current or retired, as their protagonists, investigating crimes and tracking down the bad guys. In fact, private eyes -- or at least private eye-like characters, abound in his fiction, whether it's an historical, a thriller or a science fiction/fantasy. Hell, he's even written porn featuring a rather well-endowed private dick, with at least four short stories relating the adventures of Max Nolan, Erotic P.I. in Beaver Magazine.
But fear not -- Bob does have scruples. He draws the line at romances. Although he has claimed he'd "write chick-lit if someone would pay me."
He's also served as uncredited (but not unacknowledged) collaborator with Warren Murphy on the Destroyer and Trace series. He's currently writing the Joe Keough series, featuring a New York City detective transplanted to the Midwest where he's now the St. Louis department's "number-one homicide man," and even more recently, a series of "Rat Pack Mysteries" wherein Frankie, Sammy, Dino et al get to ogle babes and make like dicks, with the help of Sands pit boss Eddie G.
* * * * *
Randisi was born in Brooklyn, New York, and although he has occasionally claimed to never have made a living other than as a writer, earlier bios mentioned his stints as a mailroom manager and a collection clerk, before nabbing a job as an administrative aide to the NYPD in 1973. He began writing at fifteen, and made his first professional submission at the tender age of eighteen, landing his first sale at twenty three. At the age of thirty, he quit the police department to write full time. Like his Joe Keough character, he now lives in St. Louis with his wife -- and occasional writing partner, Marthayn Pelegrimas, a well-respected writer of horror and speculative short fiction. As Chrisitine Matthews, she's co written three mystery novels with Randisi featuring Gil and Claire Hunt, edited a few mystery anthologies and served as the Membership Chairperson for the PWA.
- "And here's the other thing about Bob Randisi: yes, his career's long, and distinguished, and bountiful. But in my opinion -- not humble, but in this case, informed -- what's really special about Bob, and the reason he deserves every honor we can give him, is how much he's done for the rest of us.
-- P.I. writer S.J. Rozan
- Targett (1971; western) W
- The Disappearance of Penny (1980, Henry Po) . Buy this book
- The Destroyer 40: Dangerous Games (1980; with Warren Murphy)
- The Destroyer 43. Midnight Man (1981; with William Ted Joy & Warren Murphy)
- Eye in the Ring (1982; Miles Jacoby) ...Buy this book ...Kindle it!
- The Steinway Collection (1983; aka "Beaten to a Pulp;" Miles Jacoby) ...Buy this book ...Kindle it!
- The Destroyer 58: Total Recall (1984; with Warren Murphy)
- Full Contact (1984; Miles Jacoby)
- Angel Eyes: Chinatown Justice (1985; by W.B. Longley) W
- Angel Eyes: Death's Angel (1985; by W.B. Longley) W
- Angel Eyes: The Miracle of Revenge (1985; by W.B. Longley) W
- The Ham Reporter (1986; Bat Masterton & Damon Runyon) W. Buy this book
- No Exit from Brooklyn (1987; Nick Delvecchio) ..Buy this book.. Kindle it!
- Once Upon a Murder (1987; with Kevin D. Randle; Miles Palodon) SF/F
- Broadway Bounty (1988; by Joshua Randall; New York City, 1800s) W
- The Barrabas Edge (1988)
- Frontier Marshall (1989) W
- Separate Cases (1990; Miles Jacoby)
- The Dead of Brooklyn (1991; Nick Delvecchio) ...Buy this book.. Kindle it!
- Hard Look (1993; Miles Jacoby)
- Stand-Up (1994; Miles Jacoby)
- The Sportsman (1994)
- Alone with the Dead (1995; Joe Keough) . Buy this book
- The Sixth Phase (1996; aka "The Turner Journals;" as Robert Leigh) . Kindle it!
- In the Shadow of the Arch (1998; Joe Keough)
- Murder is the Deal of the Day (1999; with Christine Mathews)
- The Ghost With Blue Eyes (1999) W
- The Sixth Phase (1999) . Buy this book
- Murder is the Deal of the Day (1999; Gill & Claire Hunt; with Christine Matthews)
- Fire Under the Arch (2000; Joe Keough)
- Blood on the Arch (2000; Joe Keough) . Buy this book
- Miracle of the Jacal (2001)
- The Masks Of Auntie Laveau (2002; Gill & Claire Hunt; with Christine Matthews)
- Curtains of Blood (2002; Jack the Ripper) . Buy this book
- The Offer (2003; stand-alone thriller) . Buy this book
- East of the Arch (2003; Joe Keough) . Buy this book
- Invitation to a Hanging (2003; Widowmaker) W
- Lancaster's Orpans (2004)
- Turnback Creek (2004; Widowmaker) W
- Arch Angels (2004; aka "Blood of Angels;" Joe Keogh). .. Buy this book
- Leaving Epitaph (2004; Sons of Daniel Shayne) W
- Backshooter (2005)
- Vengeance Creek (2005; Sons of Daniel Shayne) W
- Same Time, Same Murder (2005; Gill & Claire Hunt; with Christine Matthews) .. Buy this book
- Cold Blooded (2005) . Buy this book
- Trapp's Mountain (2005) W
- Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime (2006; Eddie G./Rat Pack) . Buy this book
- Pearl River Junction (2006; Sons of Daniel Shayne) W
- The Picasso Flop (2007; with Vince Van Patten) .. Buy this book
- The Gamblers: Butler's Wager (2007) W . Buy this book
- Blood Trail to Kansas (2007) W . Buy this book
- Luck Be a Lady: Don't Die (2007; Eddie G./Rat Pack) .. Buy this book
- Hey There (You with the Gun in Your Hand) (2008; Eddie G.) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- The Gamblers: Denver Draw (2007) W
- The Money Gun (2007)
- The Gamblers: Texas Bluff (2008) W
- Double the Bounty (2008; Decker) W
- The Lawman (2008; Decker) W
- Texas Iron (2008) W
- Beauty and the Bounty (2009; Decker) W
- Bounty on a Baron (2009; Decker) W
- Gallows (2009)
- The Bottom of Every Bottle (2010)
- Crow Bait (2010)
- The End of Brooklyn (2011; Nick Delvecchio) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- I'm a Fool To Kill You (2011; Eddie G./Rat Pack).. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- Fly Me to the Morgue (2011; Eddie G./Rat Pack). Buy this book
- It Was a Very Bad Year (2012; Eddie G./Rat Pack).. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- The Session Man (2012; "Auggie" Velez-Colon).. Buy this book
- The Further Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (2012)
- Bullets and Lies (2012; Talbot Roper) W
- Rocky Mountain Kill (2012; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- Commanche Come-On (2012; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- Chinatown Chance (2012; Tracker) W
- The Oklahoma Score (2012; Tracker) W
- Big Gun Bushwhacker (2013; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- Bulls Eye Blood (2013; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- Deep Canyon Kill (2013; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- Fire in the Hole (2013; Mountain Jack Pike) W
- The Reluctant Pinkerton (2013; Talbot Roper) W
- You Make Me Feel So Dead (2013; Eddie G./Rat Pack) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- Upon My Soul (2013; Hitman) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- The Honky Tonk Big Hoss Boogie (2013; "Auggie" Velez-Colon) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
- The Way You Die Tonight (2014; Eddie G./Rat Pack) .. Buy this book. Kindle it!
OTHER WESTERN NOVELS & SERIES
PENDING FURTHER INVESTIGATION
- Mountain Man's Vengeance (by Robert Lake)
- Blood Trail To Kansas (by Robert Lake)
- Backshooter (by Robert Lake)
- Texas Iron
- The Gunsmith Series (1982- present; as J.R. Roberts)
- Tracker Series (1984- 85; as Tom Cutter)
- The Angel Eyes Series (1986- 88; as W.B. Longley)
- The Bounty Hunter Series (1986- 88, as Joshua Randall)
- The Mountain Jack Pike Series (late 80's; as Joseph Meek)
- The Ryder Series (as Cole Weston)
- "Murder Among Witches" (October 1974, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine)
- "Cop Without a Shield" (August 1976, Mystery Monthly)
- "Mirror Image" (November 1976, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine)
- "The Disappearance of Penny" (December 1976, AHMM)
- "The Steinway Collection" (January 1977, Mystery Monthly; Miles Jacoby)
- "Night Walker" (January 1977, AHMM)
- "The Snaphaunce" (Fall 1985, Hardboiled #2; Nick Delvecchio)
- "The Equine Theft" (1986, Hardboiled; Henry Po)
- "The Nickel Derby" (Spring 1987, Hardboiled; Henry Po)
- "A Matter of Ethics" (1987, The Black Lizard Anthology; Nick Delvecchio)
- "The Vanishing Virgin" (1988, An Eye For Justice; Nick Delvecchio)
- "Locker 246" (1988. Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe; Philip Marlowe)
- "Double Edge" (1989, Deadly Doings; Nick Delvecchio)
- "Hardfall" (1990, Detective Story Magazine #8)
- "The Contract" (1990, Hardboiled #11)
- "Turnabout" (1992, Deadly Allies)
- "Laying Down to Die", from (1994, Deadly Allies II; Nick Delvecchio)
- "Flowers for Jennifer" (December 1994, EQMM; with Christine Matthews)
- "The Girl Who Talked To Horses" (1996, Homicide Hosts Presents; Henry Po)
- "Like a Stranger" (1996, For Crime Out Loud, Vol. 2)
- "The Goodly Race" (1996, Murder Most Irish)
- "The Ghost with Blue Eyes" (1997, The Fatal Frontier)
- "A Favor For Sam" (1998, Private Eyes; Nick Delvecchio)
- "Blood and Gossip" (Summer 1999, Murderous Intent)
- "The Old Dons" (Winter 1999, Shots; Nick Delvecchio)
- "Midnight Pass" (May 2000, EQMM; also Mystery in the Sunshine State; Truxton Lewis)
- "Black and White Memories" (Summer 2000, The Mississippi Review; Truxton Lewis)
- "So Beautiful, So Dead" (2004, The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits)
- "The Funeral of Tanner Moody" (2004; The Funeral of Tanner Moody) W
- "Call Me Sam" (2006, Kolchak: The Night Stalker Casebook; Carl Kolchak & Dashiell Hammett)
Other Short Stories, Date Unknown
- "The Missing Bust" (Beaver Magazine; Max Nolan; as Spencer Fortune)
- "Hitch Humper" (Beaver Magazine; Max Nolan; as Spencer Fortune)
MULTIPLE AUTHOR COLLABORATIONS
- Caribbean Blues (1988; with Mary Higgins Clark, Molly Cochran, Max Allan Collins, Gregory McDonald, Richard Meyers and Warren Murphy)
- The Black Moon (1989; with Loren D. Estleman, Livia J. Washburn, W. R. Philbrick & Ed Gorman)
- Legend (1999; western, conceived by Randisi, written with Loren D. Estleman, Elmer Kelton, Jane Candia Coleman, James Reasoner, Judy Alter and Ed Gorman)
ANTHOLOGIES EDITED BY RANDISI
January 2011 mini-feature by Jedidiah-Ayres, posted on Barnes & Noble.
A 2008 interview, conducted by our good pla, Ali.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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“Next to his way with a horse, a cowboy was proudest of his independence,” he wrote in “The Day the Cowboys Quit,” a 1971 novel set during a ranch-hand strike in 1883. “He worked for other men, but they owned nothing of him except his time. He was a free soul. He could ride from the Rio Grande to the Powder River and seldom see a fence. He could start that ride with five dollars in his pocket and have three left when he finished, if that was the way he wanted to travel. Money did not rule him.”
Remarkably, Mr. Kelton wrote most of his books in his spare time. He spent his working life largely as a journalist, first as a livestock and farm writer for The San Angelo Standard-Times and later as an editor for the publications Sheep and Goat Raiser magazine and Livestock Weekly. It was his grounding in the minutiae of ranch life that first lifted his work above the pulp traditions of the western, in which the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad, and a gunfight between them to establish the proper order of the universe was inevitable.
Mr. Kelton began his writing career in this vein, selling stories to pulp magazines like Ranch Romances and Thrilling Western. But with his second novel, “Buffalo Wagons” (1956), about a buffalo hunter in the Comanche territory of the Arkansas River in the 1870s, he began focusing each book on a particular time and place, and the precise detailing that went into creating his settings bled into the creation of his characters, who tend not to be the heroic white hats who command the respect of men and induce swoons in women.
“His approach was that a book was always about a time of transition,” Mr. Kelton’s son Stephen said in a telephone interview. “His characters had to deal with the dissolution of something familiar.”
For example, in “The Good Old Boys” (1978), a novel set in 1906 that was later made into a television movie directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Hewey Calloway, an aging cowboy with a self-destructive streak, grapples with the onset of modern times, as automobiles and 20th-century thinking encroach on the frontier.
“I have often been asked how my characters differ from the traditional, larger-than-life heroes of the mythical West,” Mr. Kelton said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News in 2007. “ ‘Those,’ I reply, ‘are seven feet tall and invincible. My characters are 5-8 and nervous.’ ”
Elmer Stephen Kelton was born on April 29, 1926, on a ranch in West Texas where his grandfather was a foreman. He grew up mostly on a different Texas ranch, near Crane, south of Odessa, where his father, Buck, was the foreman. The first of four sons, young Elmer was the bookish one, never as competent as his brothers in roping, riding and other cattle-related skills.
“If I really had been a good cowboy like I wished I could have been, I’d probably be still working on some ranch out on the Pecos River,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 1986. Instead he studied journalism at the University of Texas. He served in Europe in World War II and met his wife, Anna Lipp, in Ebensee, Austria, in 1945.
In addition to his wife and his son Stephen, Mr. Kelton is survived by three brothers, Merle, Bill and Eugene; another son, Gary; a daughter, Kathy; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a great-great-granddaughter, all of Texas. His funeral in San Angelo on Thursday was attended by some 500 people, many of them part of the cowboy culture he revered.
“The music as they carried the casket out was ‘Happy Trails,’ ” Mr. Hutton said. “Very western all the way.”Continue reading the main story