Pete Wennick

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner
Pseudonyms include A.A. Fair, Grant Holiday, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenney, Charles M. Green,  Kyle Corning, Les Tillray and Robert Parr

Freewheeling legal troubleshooter PETE WENNICK, who appeared in three Black Mask stories in the late thirtes, is an interesting character in Erle Stanley Gardner’s long list of semi-scrupulous characters. He lands neatly somewhere between Perry Mason and Donald Lam, and prefiguring them both. He’s a little more morally flexible and definitely more cranky than Mason ever was, and he’s a brash, wise-cracking investigator, just like Lam, with whom he shares an eye for the ladies.

Wennick works as an investigator and leg man (just like Lam) for cranky, difficult but high-priced attorney E. B. Jonathan (shades of Bertha!), and isn’t about a little evidence-planting, misrepresentation and other legal shenanigans, if push comes to shove. And like the Honorable Mason, Esq., and the somewhat less honorable Lam, he gets involved in some decidedly twisty, tangled affairs. Although the cases Wennick handles are generally a little darker in tone than anything Mason ever tackled (especially after the first few decidedly more hard-boiled books in the series), the slippery moral dilemmas, the shape-shifting ethical battle grounds and the legal flip-floppery will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s a fan of either the Mason or the Cool and Lam novels, although the comic overtones may appeal more to fans of the latter.


  • “Among Thieves” (September 1937, Black Mask)
  • “Leg Man” (February 1938, Black Mask)
  • “Take It or Leave It” (March 1939, Black Mask; also 1977, The Hard-Boiled Detectives)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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