Steve Craig

Created by Bevis Winter
Pseudonyms include Al Bocca, Peter Cagney, Sammy Coburn, Bennet Hill & Gordon Shayne; and the house pseudonym Hyman Zore
(1918-1985)

A Los Angeles (possibly Santa Monica?) private eye from the pen of prolific British pulpster Bevis Winter, from the Mushroom Jungle era–in other words, one of those Brits pumping out cheap, American-style hard-boiled pulp for thrill-starved post-war Brits and other Commonwealth types. (Americans, of course, not needing to import clunky hard-boiled prose–thery had an infinite domestic supply.

One thing’s for sure–these Brits may have occasionally botched up their geography, or miss the mark on their Americanisms, mistaking Long Island for Long Beach, or having their hero drive a “Chevvie,” but they sure had the formula down pat.

Hard-boiled STEVE CRAIG (reputedly Winter’s most popular creation) has, of course, a faithful Girl Friday by his side, the “bright-eyed Kitty Callaway,” to gaze at him fondly, watch his back, guard the homefront, and to occasionally be kidnapped or threatened by thugs. As for the plots, they’re seeded with plenty of “American-style” crime: machine-toting gangsters, blackmail, car chases, corrupt cops and politicians, and of course, plenty of murder, because as The Clash reminds us, “Killers in America/Work seven days a week.”

Still, they must have been popular enough in the U.K. for their publisher, Jenkin, to keep publishing them, but arguably even more success came from the foreign-language market. Meanwhile, the English editions are exceedingly hard to find (especially on this side of the Atlantic), with used copies of some titles listed as high as a thousand dollars.

The author, Bevis Peter Winter, was British (not Australian, as previously reported), born in Birmingham, England in 1918. He was a relatively prolific writer (some say “hack”) in the fifties and sixties, writing under a slew of pseudonyms, cranking out a seemingly endless stream of “gangster novels” and faux American hard-boiled detective fiction.  A veteran of the “Mushroom Jungle” era, he had a hand in publishing and editing Stag, one of the first British mens’ magazine, and even published a non-fiction booklet, The Naked Truth About Freelance Writing in 1948. His other private eyes include Major Martin MyersAl Rankin and Mike Strang.

UNDER OATH

  • “A private eye story in the tough category, this has all the ingredients of sex and gore one expects. The affair starts innocently enough with a tailing tag, but rushes into a machine gun shooting job with a staged smash-up, and goes on from there with gangsters, a jewel robbery, two more murders and plenty of false clueing. Routine in its class.”
    — Kirkus Reviews on Darker Grows the Street (A Noose of Emeralds)
  • “The city isn’t much of a player here in The Dead Sleep for Keeps, but the book’s a perfectly competent entertainment, and I wouldn’t have guessed that Winter wasn’t American.”
    — John Fraser on The Dead Sleep for Keeps

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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