Jerry Killain

Created by Harlan Ellison
Pseudonyms include Jay Charby, Landon Ellis, Sley Harson, Ellis Hart, John Magnus & Jay Solo

“I don’t play if I don’t know how to win.”
— Jerry lays it out for his boss, in “The Golden Virgin”

Although he’s celebrated as a science fiction and fantasy author (and as a cutting, take-no-prisoners pop culture critic), Harlan Ellison enjoyed success in many genres, including crime and detective fiction, where he was a frequent contributor to numerous digests of the fifties and early sixties, including Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Trapped Detective Stories, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, The Saint Mystery Magazine and others, and even nabbed a couple of Edgars later on in his career.

JERRY KILLIAN was, as far as I can tell, Ellison’s only series character in the genre, appearing in three stories. Killian (pronounced kill-ee-un, he supposedly has a thing about that) is a sometime-insurance investigator and sometime-private eye based in New York City, now working exclusively for Businessman’s Protective Association, which Jerry assures us “pays real fine.”

He’s brash and cocky, but well worth investigating; a nice example of how good some of the stories in those now-almost-forgotten digests could be.

He’s also relatively short (after being seduced by the obligatory femme fatale, he worries that he’s just a “sawed-off lover”), but if you’re really looking for an Ellison eye who’s really short, check out Big John Novak — he’s only three-foot-two, or Sheckley Scodell, who may only have one eye.


  • “The Golden Virgin” (January 1957, Crime and Justice Detective Story Magazine)
  • “Scum Town” (August 1957, Fast Action Detective and Mystery Stories)
  • “They Killed My Kid!” (April 1960, Tightrope!)


  • Honorable Whoredom at a Penny a Word (2017)Buy this book.
    Fourteen stories from early in Ellison’s career, including all three featuring Jerry Killian, as well as one with Big John Novak, and another with Sheckley Scodell, two other Ellison eyes.
Respectfully report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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