Brock Callahan

Created by William Campbell Gault

“Well, what had I brought to this trade? Three years in the O.S.S. and my memories of a cop father. Along with a nodding acquaintanceship with maybe fifty lads in the [Los Angeles Police] Department. That didn’t make me any Philip Marlowe. Work alone wouldn’t do it, nor determination; I was a fraud in my chosen profession. So many are, but that didn’t make me any more admirable.”
— Brock Callahan

One of the best, and also one of the very last P.I. writers to have truly written for the pulps (he wrote over 300 short stories for them), William Campbell Gault created ex-LA Rams guard turned Beverly Hills private eye BROCK “THE ROCK” CALLAHAN. One of the first of the compassionate eyes, Brock was also one of first eyes to have a steady girlfriend (whom he later marries, in the 1984 comeback, The Bad Samaritan).

In fact, Brock was in many ways the perfect private eye for the “good old days” of the 1950s: a clean-cut, athletic, white middle class guy with a swell girlfriend and suitably ambitious professional aspirations; generally optimistic and a firm believer, for the most part, in the decency of other people — in short, the very antithesis of the dark, violent and cynical Mike Hammer.

In 1982’s The Cana Diversion, Brock tries to help out another Gault gumshoe, the troubled Joe Puma, who had his own series back in the fifties and sixties.

In fact, Gault was responsible for several other private eyes in his long pulp career, including Honolulu’s Sandy McKane, Armenian gumshoe Pierre Apoyan, debt collector (and wannabe detective) Mickey Dolan and Mortimer Jones, a predecessor of Brock’s who appeared several times in the pages of Black Mask. Despite his acclaim, Gault in fact stopped writing detective fiction in the early sixties, abandoning it for the far more lucrative field of juvenile sports fiction, and only returned to detective fiction in the eighties.


  • Ross Macdonald, another of the last of the pulpers, dedicated his last novel, The Blue Hammer, to William Campbell Gault.


  • Ring Around the Rosa (1955, also known as “Murder in the Raw”)
  • Day of the Ram (1956)
  • The Convertible Hearse (1957)Buy this book
  • Come Die With Me (1959)
  • Vein of Violence (1961)
  • County Kill (1962) Buy this book
  • Dead Hero (1963) Buy this book
  • The Bad Samaritan (1982) Buy this book
  • The Cana Diversion (1982; also featuring Joe Puma)
  • Death in Donegal Bay (1984) Buy this book
  • The Dead Seed (1985) Buy this book
  • The Chicano War (1986)
  • Cat and Mouse (1988)
  • Dead Pigeon (1992)


  • “April in Peril” (1986, Mean Streets)


    (1959, CBS)
    30 minutes
    One episode
    Based on a charactor in the novels by William Campbell Gault
    Produced by Columbia Pictures Television_
    Executive Producer: Harry Ackerman
    Starring Ken Clark as BROCK CALLAHAN

    • “The Silent Kill” Watch it now!
      (Pilot episode,August 11, 1959)
      Written by Sterling Silliphant
      Directed by Don Siegel
      Starring Ken Clark as BROCK CALLAHAN
      With Randy Stuart as Jan Bonnett
      Also starring Richard Shannon, Barbara Darrow, Richard Deacon, Brett Halsey, Doug Odney
      and Los Angeles Rams coach Sid Gillman as himself.
      Talk about a rarity. A pilot for a Brock Callahan series. Although the dialogue’s a little, well, dated. When Jan discovers a man hanged and calls Brock at a Rams game, asking IF she could call the cops, Brock replies, “No, Jan. Don’t you do anything. I’ll call the police…try not to think.” As George Atkins points out, “THAT kind of dialog would certainly go over big these days!” But the episode’s real problem, despite the fact is was written by Sterling Silliphant and directed by Don Siegel, is that it was just rather dull.


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Dale Stoyer for this sharp eye, and to George Atkins, for the lead to the pilot.

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