Created by James M. Reasoner
Fort Worth private eye CODY, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, is a sort of Texan Lew Archer with a little Spenser — and a lot of brooding — tossed in. He’s in his early forties, well-educated, and prone to contemplation and often poetic turns of phrase. He’s not real big on the whole Texas-cowboy-man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do mythos, although he does tend to favor cowboy boots and jeans. And, unlike ol’ Lew, Cody seems to be able to hold on to a relationship–notably with the lovely and classy Janice Bryant. He works out of an office on Camp Bowie Boulevard.
Cody’s only novel-length appearance, the cult classic Texas Wind (1980), is considered by many to be one of the best private eye novels ever written. Originally released by a small, soon-forgotten publisher, Manor Books, it remained out-of-print and expensive as hell (when you could find it) for over two decades, despite the fact that it caused quite an initial buzz, with folks driving all over Fort Worth looking for the sites mentioned in the book. (Fortunately, in 2004, someone finally got the idea of reprinting the book, and even made a digital version available).
Cody appeared in a handful of short stories in the eighties, and they’re all pretty much top-rate, worth tracking down, even if they don’t quite reach the heights of the novel.
Mind you, Reasoner’s no stranger to short fiction. He also wrote a series of stories about another private eye Markham, and with his wife, fellow crime writer L.J. Washburn (creator of private eye Lucas Hallam) wrote or co-wrote thirty-seven Mike Shayne stories under the pseudonym of “Brett Halliday” for Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine at one time. They’ve also collaborated on Tie a Black Ribbon, a novel featuring bouncer/P.I. Skeeter Barlow. And Reasoner has also done a series of Westerns featuring Judge Earl Stark, a former stage coach guard who becomes a judge.
Reasoner is still writing, mostly work-for-hire in the Western historical vein with his wife under several names, covering everything from Walker, Texas Ranger novels based on the TV series and an ambitious 10-volume series highlighting famous American Civil war battles to his popular Longarm and Trailsman westerns. A defiant defender of the pulp work ethic, in October 2017 he wrote on his blog:
- “I topped a little rise on Ridgmar Boulevard and could see forever into the west. I could look past Carswell with its giant planes landing and taking off into the brushy hills that rolled gently all the way to Weatherford. It was just past ten o’clock on a Monday morning in October, and the early haze in the air was starting to burn off. The air coming in the window of my Ford had a tang to it that wasn’t caused by pollution. The first frost would come before the month was out, I figured.”
— opening lines from Texas Wind
- “I’ve been looking for this book for close to two decades. You’d think that after all of that time my expectations would be so high that the book couldn’t possibly live up to them. Wrong. It’s the best PI novel I’ve read in some time. Good plot, great character. Sorry there aren’t more books featuring Cody. It really reminded me that nothing hits me like a good PI novel, definitely my sub-genre of choice.”
— Mark Sullivan
TALES FROM OUT OF SCHOOL
- “In the summer of 2004 I was temping at a local bookstore. An obviously married couple comes up to the counter to buy some books, the man hands me a credit card that reads James M. Reasoner. Now I had already seen the names Martha Stewart, James Mason, etc. So, in an offhanded manner, I said, “You’re not the writer, are you?” There was a deer-in-the- headlights moment from the couple. Then the woman (also a writer, it turns out, L. J. Washburn) exclaimed, “How did you know that?” To which I replied, “I’ve got a copy of that Ft. Worth private eye novel.” Still a little surprised, she said, “Texas Wind? That book’s been out of print for over twenty years. It’s going for $125 a copy.”
“Well they’re not getting my copy,” I quipped. (Jerry Seinfeld has nothing to fear from yours truly)
We exchanged pleasantries and then they were gone. I spent the rest of my shift sharing the account with my coworkers, who had no idea who I was talking about. I had to show them a copy of one of his Western books we happened to have on the shelf.”
— David Nobriga
- “… one of the finest private eye novels I’ve ever read . . . a virtually perfect utterance, a story of a man, an era, and a place.”
— Ed Gorman on Texas Wind
SHORT STORIES & NOVELETTES
- “Dead in Friday” (Summer 1982, Spiderweb)
- “The Elephant’s Graveyard” (January 1985, MSMM)
- “The Spanish Blade” (1987, Hardboiled #7)
- “The Safest Place in the World” (1988, An Eye for Justice)
- “In the Blood” (1988, A Matter of Crime #3)
- “Assisted Dying” (2010, Fort Worth Nights)
- My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
- Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys
Contemporary Cowboy Eyes
- Rough Edges
James Reasoner’s blog.Essential for pulp fans.
- Texas Winds
The Private Eye Tales of James M. Reasoner
- One and Done
Some Great Private Eyes Who’ve Appeared in Only One Novel