Created by Jack Lynch
A Korean War vet and ex-reporter turned San Francisco gumshoe, and very much cast in the Hammett mold, PETER BRAGG appeared in a string of equally tough paperback originals, starting with Bragg’s Hunch (1981), an impressive debut.
But the second book in the series, 1982’s The Missing and the Dead, was even better. It was nominated for a Shamus, and Pieces of Death, from later that same year, was nominated for an Edgar.
We’re talking good stuff here, hard, taut and terse.
Unfortunately, for some reason later books in the series were packaged as Men’s Adventures books, which were big business back then. Even worse, the books were saddled with some rather generic–but instantly recognizable–artwork, not all that dissimilar from those adorning the covers of Mack Bolan, The Destroyer, The Exterminator, etc., etc. They also began supplying them with a rather generic titling system, naming the books after the mostly Bay Area cities in which the action took place (ie: Seattle, Sausalito, Monterey, etc.).
Oh, sure, the books weren’t lacking for action, but they because deserved better than being stuck in Men’s Adventure ghetto. They were, in fact, damned good, featuring a hard but believable hero, and narrated in a straight, unpretentious manner, literate without being lofty, not unlike the work of Hammett himself. But being relegated to the Men’s Adventure spinner racks was the kiss of death–a fate that Ralph Dennis’ Hardman series also suffered. The last book in the series was Seattle in 1985.
And then, in 2002, out of the blue, Bragg returned in the self-published Wolf House, a decidedly off-beat late addition to the series that had the formerly no-nonsense private eye working with a psychic.
But for those hankering for the real deal, upstart publisher Brash Books began an ambitious series of reissues, bringing back the first seven original novels (along with the author’s original titles) in September 2014 in both print and–for the first time–digital, sporting some clever, Will Eisner-inspired covers.
Jack Lynch was a reporter who quit the newspaper business for a career as a mystery writer. He was born and raised in Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and worked as a reporter at several Seattle-area newspapers, before moving on to others in Iowa and Kansas. He moved to the Bay Area in the sixties, working for a while at a brokerage house and as a bartender, before going to work for the San Francisco Chronicle. He left the newspaper after many years to write the eight Bragg novels, earning one Edgar and two Shamus nominations.
- “First-rate, well-plotted. Bragg is a restrained and believable hero. The action scenes are excellent. The gangland gun battle that rages across Sand Valley is a superb.”
— 101 Knights: A Survey of American Detective Fiction“Bragg is authentic, gripping, gritty.”
— San Francisco Examiner
- Bragg’s Hunch (1981; aka “The Dead Never Forget”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Missing and the Dead (1982) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Pieces of Death (1982) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Sausalito (1984; aka “Wake Up and Die”) Buy this book | Kindle it!
- San Quentin (1984; aka “Speak for the Dead”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Monterey (1985; aka “Truth or Die”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Seattle (1985; aka “Yesterday is Dead”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Wolf House (2002; aka “Die for Me”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Complete Bragg (2020) | Kindle it!
Collects all eight novels.