Johnny Aloha

Created by Day Keene
Pseudonym of Gunnar Hjerstedt

(1904-1969)

“Familiar enough in its sex and violence and in its expose of criminous goings on in the pop-record business; but it’s fast, lively and professional, and Irish-Hawaiian Johnny Aloha is better company than many of ficiton’s private eyes.”
Anthony Boucher, New York Times, on Payola

Day Keene’s JOHNNY ALOHA is — what else? — an Hawaiian eye.

You were expecting maybe Alaska?

Nope. Johnny’s an ex-Marine (he fought in Korea), half-Irish and half Hawaiian, cynical and tough, who set himself up as a private detective in Los Angeles after the war. The stories are a little more lighthearted than Keene’s work for the pulps, rather similar to those of Carter Brown, in their easy blend of sex and violence; a kind of  light, tongue-in-cheek vibe, similar at times to Richard S. Prather’s Shell Scott capers, which were immensely popular at the time. Keene decided to try his hand at something similar.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he also wrote a couple of episodes of the American TV series Hawaiian Eye, which made its debut the same year Johnny first showed up. Just coincidence, I’m sure.

Day Keene was born Gunnar Hjerstedt in Chicago in 1904, and died in North Hollywood in 1969. Along the way he wrote for the theater, radio, the pulps and finally paperbacks. Well-received in France, many of his mystery and crime novels were first published there.

NOVELS

  • Dead in Bed (1959; French title “Vice sans fin“) Buy this book
  • Payola (1960; French title “Change pas de disque“) Buy this book

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Respectfully submitted by Marcel Bernadac, with additional information by Kevin Burton Smith.

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