Gale Gallagher

Created by Gale Gallagher
Pseudonym of Will Oursler
and Margaret Scott

“She sat on a bench in the reception room, genuine honey blonde and beautiful. I guessed her age at thirty-five, but she was playing it younger.”
Gale eyeballs a potential client in the first lines of I Found Him Dead. Meow.

Fast-talking skip tracer/private eye GALE GALLAGHER heads the Acme Investigating Bureau of New York City, complete with a loyal secretary, Patsy Higgins, in two well-written books in the late forties (purportedly by Gale herself) that owe more than a little to all the hard-boiled P.I. novels of the era featuring male gumshoes.

But Gale was no dude.

Gallagher is arguably the missing link between the good girl sleuths of the past and the tougher modern female P.I.s of the present. In the “tag end” of her twenties, she’s smart, well-dressed, and seems pretty self-assured; surprisingly independent for that era. She goes to bars and jazz clubs alone, and enjoys the company of several men. She has a license to carry, though she rarely does, but she keeps a whiskey bottle close, and she speaks with a sassy dry wit and a “low-key toughness” that is all-together believable. She even narrates her own tales. As she explains in I Found Him Dead (1947), “We trace persons who run out on hotel bills, flighty wives who traipse off with the milkman, husbands who duck financial responsibility.”

In other words, don’t mess with her.

Gale Gallagher was the pseudonym of married couple Margaret Scott and Will Oursler. Besides co-creating Gallagher, Oursler, the son of noted novelist and playwright Fulton Oursler, is probably best-known in hard-boiled circles for editing the 1951 collection of hard-boiled pulp tales As Tough As They Come. As for Margaret Scott, who knows? Sadly, only two books featuring Gale Gallagher were written.

Maybe she was too ahead of her time? In a rather churlish review by mystery critic Isaac Anderson of The New York Times, he suggests that the she heed the advice of a man she meets in I Found Him Dead who suggests she give up the detective business. for she has been taking too many dangerous chances.”


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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