Created by Fredric Brown
Chicago’s own ED and AM HUNTER are one of the best, and most endearing and beloved private eye teams in the genre, and Frederic Brown was one of the most imaginative writers to ever grace the genre, so what’s not to like?
Young, brash, ambitious, idealistic Ed Hunter and his uncle Ambrose, a cheerful, chubby, streetwise ex-carny with a taste for poker, run the Hunter and Hunter Detective Agency in Chicago, although it’s not always clear if Am is running some sort of sheme or not. So it’s often young Ed, who usually ends up falling head over heels for some “skirt” who leads them into some of the most entertaining, and offbeat, capers in detective fiction. I particularly liked Death Has Many Doors (1951), where a young woman is convinced that Martians are out to get her.
All the Ed and Am books are like that– there’s a sort of windblown, carny sense of humour at work here; a playful shell game of sliding realities, like you known you’re being scammed somehow, but you keep on reading.
But the undisputed highlight of the series and a stone-cold classic of the P.I. genre is definitely the one that kicked off the series: The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947), an alternately heart-warming and darkly grim meditation on obsession, coming-of-age and the ensuing weight of maturity. Bill Pronzin referred to it, in 1001 Midnights, as “unquestionably more than just another hard-boiled detective tale.”
And he’s right. It won an Edgar for Best First Novel, but awards seem trivial compared to the emotional punch that this book packs. Not that Brown was ever some literary joykill — he also possessed one of the hinkiest senses of humour in the genre. He once wrote a book called Murder Can Be Fun, and in the Ed and Am series, he went about proving it.
- The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Dead Ringer (1948)
- The Bloody Moonlight (1949)
- Compliments of a Fiend (1950)
- Death Has Many Doors (1951)
- The Late Lamented (February 1959, SMM)
- Mrs. Murphy’s Underpants (1963)
- “Before She Kills” (1961, Ed McBain’s Mystery Book) | Buy this book
- “The Missing Actor” (November 1963, The Saint Mystery Magazine)
- Hunter and Hunted: The Ed and Am Hunter Novels, Part One (2002) | Buy this book
An omnibus volume consisting of the first four novels: The Fabulous Clip Joint, The Dead Ringer, The Bloody Moonlight and Compliments of a Fiend. A second volume was planned, containing the remaining Ed and Am Hunter novels and stories. Unfortunately, the publisher seems to have abandoned the project after the first volume.
- The Complete Ed & Am Hunter Mysteries (2020; tentative)
Two-volumes, with an introduction by Jack Seabrook.