The Three Barney Glines of William Ard

Created by William Ard
Pseudonyms include Jonas Ward, Ben Kerr, Thomas Wills and Mike Moran


I really like the private eye novels of William Ard, one of the most successful (but now, criminally forgotten) hard-boiled writers of the fifties, particularly those featuring Big Apple eye Timothy Dane. But he created a whole slew of gumshoes in his short career.

Like, for instance, BARNEY GLINES, another Big Apple eye he created. As inventive and creative and clever a writer as Ard was, I have to confess he was a little lazy–and occasionally downright sloppy–when it came to naming his characters. He would constantly change characters’ names. Or, in the case of Barney Glines, casually recycle the same name for other characters.

The first Barney Glines appeared in two novels, You’ll Get Yours (1952) and Mine To Avenge (1955), written under the Thomas Willis pseudonym that Ard occasionally used.

But a year after the second book appeared, another Barney Glines, an older New York private eye, showed up in one of the later Timothy Dane novels, Cry Scandal (1956) as a supporting character. While searching for Glines, who’s gone missing, Dane recalls how the older detective, prone to cutting corners, once took the young whippersnapper under his wing, and how the more scrupulous Dane and his mentor eventually parted ways. This Glines seems to be a completely different private eye from the one who was featured in the Willis books.

But it didn’t stop there. Amazing, yet another Barney Glines popped up, this time as a major supporting character character in two interconnected novels, As Bad As I Am (1959) and When She Was Bad (1960), about a young ex-con named Mike Fontaine. Mike’s in a jam, and a private detective named Barney helps him out, and decides to take him on as an assistant. By the second novel, Mike’s a full-fledged private eye himself, but for some reason, by now Mike’s changed his name to Danny. And just to sweeten the mix, the first novel was subsequently re-titled Wanted: Danny Fontaine.

A long-time favourite of mine, Brooklyn-born William Ard was one of the unjustly forgotten hard-boiled writers of the fifties. An ex-Marine, a publicist and copywriter, he also worked for a brief time, just after WWII , as a detective. His career burned bright but fast, lasting little more than a decade, but in that time he mananaged to create several intriguing New York private eyes, not just Dane, the various Glines, and that Fontaine guy (whatever his first name was), but also Lou Largo, and Johnny Stevens (all of which come highly recommended), as well as a string of well-regarded westerns (as Jonas Ward). Other pseudonyms included Ben Kerr and Mike Moran.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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