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
Used a string of ghosts to pen numerous novels and short stories featuring Mike Shayne. For the complete list, see Who Was Brett Halliday?
The prolific creator of The Saint turns out to be not quite as prolific as suspected.
The latter Shaft books were ghosted, although it seems Tidyman kept an eye on things.
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.
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.
Hmmm...sounds like a case for Mike Shayne.
Leslie Charteris (born Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin; 1907–1993) was a British-American writer best known for his series on stories featuring Simon Templar, also known as The Saint. Born in Singapore to a Chinese father, Suat Yin Chwan, and his English wife, Lydia (née Bowyer), Charteris travelled extensively with his family until beginning his education in England in 1919. In 1925 he enrolled at King's College, Cambridge, but left after a year in order to become a writer; to support himself, he worked as a goldminer, bartender, professional bridge player and temporary policeman. In October 1926 he changed his name by deed poll to Leslie Charles Bowyer Charteris-Ian, and professionally used the shorter version, Leslie Charteris.
Charteris's first novel, X Esquire, which he later described as "an appallingly bad book", was published in 1927; his second novel—The White Rider, published in 1928—is "overwritten and poorly constructed", according to his biographer Joan DelFattore. In his third novel, Meet the Tiger (1928), he introduced the character of Simon Templar, a debonair gentleman crook who goes by the nom de guerre, The Saint.
Charteris continued writing Saint books and the series gained in popularity because of its "mix of light humour, sophisticated settings, and story-line emphasising the role of a crusader tackling the forces of evil", which had "special appeal in the depression". Charteris moved to the United States in 1932 and soon began writing screenplays, the first of which resulted in Midnight Club, released in 1933.
Charteris also worked on three books of non-fiction and an introduction to the 1980 re-issue of The Saint Meets the Tiger. The works consisted of a translation from Spanish to English of the autobiography of the bullfighter Juan Belmonte, a language guide to Spanish, and a guide to Paleneo, a wordless, pictorial sign language invented by Charteris. He died in Windsor, Berkshire, in April 1993.
Novels and story collections
"You might have seen something of the Indian, too, in the intent lines of his tanned reckless face; but that would have been an easy illusion. The same lines would have fitted as naturally into the picture of a conquistador ... or of d'Artagnan mocking the courts of France: they were only the heraldry of a character that would have been the same in any age or place, the timeless brand of the born buccaneer."
Notes and references
- ^Novelisation of the film of the same name, for which Charteris also wrote the script.
- ^by Harry Harrison, Leslie Charteris.
- ^by Fleming Lee, Leslie Charteris; novelisation of a comic strip.
- ^by Fleming Lee, Leslie Charteris; novelisation of a television script.