Clayton Yankee Taggart

Created by Robert J. Ray

CLAYTON YANKEE TAGGART is a Vietnam vet turned Texas private eye, big and tough as all git out.

As one character spouts out, “Man don’t run across many like that. No sir.”

Which may be the problem. The author tries to tamp down Clayton’s character a little, adding a few Spenserian touches (Clayton apparently makes a mean homemade soup, and is partial to songs from the first World War), but he comes across as so macho, and the story in the uneven and overheated Cage of Mirrors (1980), his only appearance, is so over the top, that it’s almost laughable. Mind you, the cartoonish sexuality (Clayton is, of course, a stud) doesn’t help.

Anyway, in his only known appearance, he’s investigating the murder of a former Army buddy who — wait for it — saved his life in the war. Which leads him to New York, London, Antwerp and all the hell over the globe, and pits him against a US senator in dire straits, a femme fatale, some drug dealers, the Feds, smugglers, a secret cabal of multi-millionaires and a daring diamond heist or two.

Cage of Mirrors was Robert J. Ray’s first novel, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. However, his five subsequent novels featuring Orange County private eye  Matt Murdock  were much more successful. A resident of Seattle, he has run writing workshops and formerly taught writing for the University of Washington’s School of Distance Learning, and is the author of two writing guides, The Weekend Novelist (1994) and, with Jack Remick, The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery (1998).


  • “… an uneven amalgam of Ludlum LeCarre, Ross Macdonald and Louis L’Amour — very good at times, very bad at others.”
    — One Hundred and One Knights (1985)
  • “What a mess! … Cage of Mirrors’ is wild, pretentious, indulgent and completely undisciplined. And yet one gets the feeling that Mr. Ray can really write. If he can tone down a bit, he should have it in him to turn out a first-class action thriller.”
    — Newgate Callender (February 1981, The New York Times Book Review)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. |

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