Danny Spade

Created by “Danny Spade”
(aka “Dail Ambler,” a pseudonym of Betty Mabel Lilian Williams)

Add Britain’s Betty Mabel Lilian Williams to the small list of successful pre-1980 female hard-boiled writers. But whereas Leigh Brackett was often compared to Chandler, and Delores Hitchens worked the turf generally considered that of Ross Macdonald, Williams’ work (she wrote as both “Danny Spade” and “Dail Ambler”) fairly reeked of Mickey Spillane.

DANNY SPADE was a hard-boiled, bourbon-drinking New York City dick, perpetually down on his luck, who appeared in some forty-two novels (well, novellas, really), published in Britain, laced with enough sex and violence (and violent sex and sexy violence) to keep ’em coming back for more. That’s the most appearances in book form of any private eye, by the way, next to Mike Shayne. Even more amazingly, they all appeared in a brief, four-year span.

And just in case someone missed the point, several of them had the words “American Thriller” right there on the cover. Once you’ve managed to track down and read all the Danny Spades, you can start on K.T. McCall’s Johnny Buchanan series, most of which were written by not one but two women hiding behind a house name.


  • The Dame Plays Rough (1950; by Danny Spade)
  • She Liked It That Way (1950)
  • Frisco Rock (1951)
  • Silk and Cordite (1951)
  • You Slay Me (1951)
  • The Lady Holds a Gun (1951)
  • Waterfront Rat (1951)
  • Move Fast, Brother (1951)
  • You’ll Play This My Way (1951)
  • Count Me Out (1951)
  • Don’t Die On Me (1951)
  • San Francisco By Night (1951)
  • So Deep The River (1951)
  • Spades Are Trumps (1951)
  • Dial Death (1951)
  • Shadow of a Gun (1952)
  • Dragnet (1952)
  • No More Chances (1952)
  • Strong Arm Stuff (1952)
  • Hi-Jack (1952)
  • Skid Row (1952)
  • Calling Mr. Spade (1952)
  • A Gun For Sale (1952)
  • Hold That Tiger! (1952; by Dail Ambler)
  • The Lady Says When (1952; by Dail Ambler)
  • Wildcat (1952, by Dail Ambler)
  • What Gives? (1952)
  • What’s With You (1952; by Dail Ambler)
  • Story of a Killer (1952)
  • Kiss Me As You Go (1953)
  • Twice As Dead (1953)
  • How Far Can You Go (1953)
  • Honey, You Slay Me (1953)
  • White Curves and Black Chiffon (1953)
  • A Girl Called Coffee (1953)
  • Lady Likes To Sin (1953)
  • Nothing To Hide (1953)
  • It’s All In Your Mind (1953)
  • That’s All I Need (1953)
  • Danny Spade Spells Trouble (1953; by Dail Ambler)
  • Someone Falling (1954; by Dail Ambler)
  • Danny Spade Sees Red (1954; by Dail Ambler)


  • “Pulp Fictions: The Lady Holds A Gun — On the Trail of Dail Ambler”
    An article by Steve Holland in Crime Time 6 was a big help. Thanks to regular contributor Peter Walker for cluing me in.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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