Holland Taylor

Created by David Housewright

When we first meet him, HOLLAND TAYLOR is a energetic young St. Paul private eye who needs to calm down. He tends to mouth off to the wrong people (cops, gangsters), and he’s not above pulling some practical jokes. Still, like The New York Times says, “If his… author ever lets him grow up, the kid might yet have a career in this genre.”

Think of him as a Richie Brockelman for the nineties. He appeared in three well-received, smart, solid novels. The first, Penance (1995) even earned Housewright an Edgar. And then zip. The author moved on to other projects. He wrote books, he became the president of The Private Eye Writers of America.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the interim, Holland grew up. When he returned, after a twenty year hiatus, in 2018’s Darkness, Sing Me a Song, he’s middle aged and the spring in his step is long gone; life having kicked him around considerably. He’s older and mostly wiser, plagued by doubt and still haunted by the long-ago death of his wife and young daughter, and a more recent romantic bust-up.

But Holland most definitely has a career;  a solid one doing background checks and the like. He also has a partner, African-American Freddie Fredericks, a more than capable detective in his own right (albeit with a Shaft-like chip on his shoulder), to watch his back. And occasionally bust his balls.

Conscientious to a fault, Holland drives a Camry and has a pet rabbit, and obsesses over  doing the right thing. In First Kill the Lawyers, he won’t even bed his obviously willing single mom neighbour, worrying it might not look “right,” and it’s amusing to to see his reaction when a teenager refers to him as an “old man.” He’s the decent Everyman wading through a rising tide of sewage, clinging to his ideals, but practical as spit. “Of course I can be bought. That’s why I had business cards printed up,” he snaps at one point, but it’s clear there are lines he won’t cross. Or are there?

As Freddie exclaims, “Fuck the line. Just this once, fuck it.”


David Housewright has worked as a journalist covering both crime and sports (sometimes simultaneously), an advertising copywriter and creative director, and a writing instructor. He won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel for Penance, and the Minnesota Book Award for his second, Practice to Deceive, in 1998, both which featured Taylor. Housewright lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Lately he’s been writing about super-rich private eye Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie.



  • “Kids Today” (July 1999, EQMM)


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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