Johnny Buchanan

Written by John Brenner
(possibly a pseudonym)
K. T. McCall
(pseudonym of Audrey Armitage and Muriel Watkins)

johnny_buchananJOHNNY BUCHANAN was a fast-talking dick for the New York-based Silver Star Insurance Company who appeared in a string of Australian pulp novellettes in the late fifties. Although he generally stuck close to home, Johnny did manage to occasionally hit such exotic hot spots as Havana and Miami, and even once cracked a case aboard a ship. Despite the often violent nature of his cases, however, he never packed heat–preferring to rely on his gift of gab to get him out of jams. There were at least twenty-five of these huffy, puffy books, all machine-gun fire prose and cheesy covers boasting juicy titles like Shroud for Her Shame and Black Lace Blackmail, put out for the lucrative pulp market down under, and all proudly proclaiming “This is a Johnny Buchanan story!

As if there were any doubt…

Assuming it’s the same Johnny who first appeared in 1956 in $ Marked Her Sin written by John Brenner (whoever he was), which was followed in short order by two more books, that is.

But the remainder of the books were definitely penned by “K. T. McCall,” the pen name of Audrey Armitage and Muriel Watkins. That’s one of the reasons the Johnny Buchanan series is so sought after by collectors–Armitage and Watkins were two of the few women pulp writers of the era, and using the K.T. McCall pen name, they penned over two dozen novels, mostly in the Buchanan series (they also wrote as “Gerry North”).

The novelty of a woman writing hard-boiled detective books was a great selling point for Australian pulp publisher Horowitz back then, which plastered the blurb “Crime fiction’s best-selling woman author” all over the covers and described “KT McCall” on the back as “blonde, beautiful and with brains.”

Not that the accompanying back cover photo was of either of the actual authors–it was actually a model from the local June Dally-Watkins Agency.

Not that Armitage and Watkins had much say in things. “We’d be given a picture of the cover and… the title, along with a few words,” Armitage said in a 2005 interview in the Sydney Morning Herald. “From that you prepared the plot and wrote the story. One of the rules of the game was that you started off with a body – either two in bed or somebody dead”


  • $ Marked Her Sin (1956; by John Brenner)
  • Die, My Lovely (1956; by John Brenner)
  • Drag Me Down (1956; by John Brenner)
  • Dance with Me Deadly (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Deadly But Delectable (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Fatally Female (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Killer Orchid (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Killers in the Chorus (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • The Lady’s a Decoy (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • M’amselle It’s Murder (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • A Redhead for Free (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Shroud for Her Shame (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Sweet But Deadly (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Sweet But Sinful (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Tornado in Town (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Velvet Vixen (1957; by K. T. McCall)
  • Angel Hold Fire! (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Babe Up in Arms (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Black Lace Blackmail (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Caviar to Kill (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Dame on the Make (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • M-MM-Minx (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Million Dollar Mayhem (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Playgirl for Keeps (1958; by K. T. McCall)
  • Stripper Strikes Out (1958; by K. T. McCall)


  • August 12, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: This hard-boiled Big Apple insurance dick appeared in a slag heap of Aussie pulp novelettes, written by “Crime fiction’s bestselling woman author” (actually TWO women, writing together).
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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