Max Kearney

Created by Ron Goulart

“Having trouble with psi powers, spooks or E.T. visitations? Take it up with Max Kearney!”
— the front cover blurb for Ghost Breaker

Who ya gonna call?

The answer may seem like a slam-dunk now, but before Ghostbusters hit theatres all around the world in 1984, the answer may have been a little less obvious. Unless you were a long-time reader of Fantasy & Science Fiction and/or a fan of Ron Goulart’s MAX KEARNEY stories which ran in it.

Max, as you might have guessed, then, Max wasn’t your average orivate eye. Nope, he was an “Occult Detective,” an investigator of psychic and paranormal phenomena. For hire. At least part time. The rest of the time, he worked as a advertising copywriter — something the author himself did for years.

Nor were Max’s clients the typical ones you see in P.I. fare. Nope, his clients had their own unique problems, like the young man who turned into into an elephant on national holidays. Or the one with a television set haunted by his guitar-playing Uncle Arly. Or the nasty boss who could make his former employees vanish. Literally. Or the couple with a water elemental in their swimming-pool. Or the home owner with a gnome living under it. Or the young husband whose dead father-in-law (and his jazz band) want to break up his marriage.

Not your usual P.I. problems. Even for the whacked-out California that Goulart has made his literary turf.

And that’s the real hook here. Because Goulart isn’t trying to scare you, or fill you with wonder. He’s out to make you laugh. The Kearny yarns are glib, enjoyable, lighthearted fun, just gentle parody. Or is it satire?

Whuddever. The point is, Goulart is best known, despite his many (many!) accomplishments, for his mostly way out, tongue-in-cheek sci-fi/fantasy/detective mash-ups, including such peculiar gumshoes as Jake and Hildy Pace, Ben Jolson and Jim Haley


  • “Please Stand By” (January 1962, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Uncle Arly” (July 1962, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “McNamara’s Fish” (July 1963, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Kearny’s Last Case” (September 1965, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Breakaway House” (May 1966, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Fill in the Blank” (May 1967, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “The Ghost Patrol” (October 1968, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “The Strawhouse Pavillion” (January 1970, Coven 13)
  • “Help Stamp Out Chesney” (1971, Ghost Breaker)
  • “The Return of Max Kearny” (December 1981, Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “Hello from Hollywood” (December 1983, Fantasy & Science Fiction)


  • Ghost Breaker/Clockwork’s Pirates (1971) | Buy this book
    An Ace double, pairing Ghost Breaker, a collection of Max Keaney stories, with a novel featuring intergalactic eye John Wesley Sand.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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