Created by Stephen Mertz
Other pseudonyms include 
Stephen Brett, Jim Case, and house pseudonyms Jack Buchanan, Cliff Garnett, Don Pendleton and Dick Stivers

“I like Denver well enough, all things considered.”
— Kilroy. Not susceptible to Rocky Mountain Highs
(Cold in the Ground)

“KILROY IS HERE!” is the obvious tagline for this equally obvious but solidly entertaining throwback of a series by prolific pulpster Stephen Mertz.

The marketeers and PR folks may be eying fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher or Robert B. Parker’s Spenser, but this series, featuring Denver private eye KILROY aren’t just set in the 1970s–they read like they were written in the seventies. Hell, Kilroy is even compared–unfavorably–to Burt Reynolds.

And that’s part of their charm.

Deliberately retro, Kilroy’s a hard-boiled gumshoe who “wears his heart on his sleeve and a .44 Magnum in his shoulder holster,” and finds himself regularly mired in good ol’ private eye action just like you like it. Kilroy is, of course, a Vietnam vet, who’s seen a little too much and doesn’t like much of it, while plying his trade on the mean streets of Denver in the “wild, anything-goes ’70s.”

Sure, it may all sound familiar to long-time fans, but it’s obvious Mertz, a long-time fan of the P.I. genre himself, knows and loves this stuff. And it shows.

Mind you, Mertz does work in a few twists that raise these above mere pastiche, like making Kirby an avid record collector, seriously into the blues, and the second book in the series, The Devil’s Music (2019), makes good use of that background, as our man takes it upon himself to track down a long-lost bluesman who may be due some serious back-royalties. Or his choice to set the series in Denver, a town Kilroy is happy enough to live in, but has no illusions about. Or the ongoing squabbles with District Attorney Dickensheets over his ever-present threats to yank Kilroy’s P.I. ticket, which  are right out of The Rockford Files, another seventies touchstone.

Now, if only someone had edited these labours of love a bit more closely… the plot gaffes and the anachronisms aren’t fatal, but they sure yank a reader out of the story. And the one-size-fits-all, straight-from-Shutterstock boring-ass covers? These books deserve better.


Stephen Mertz has traveled widely and is a U.S. Army veteran. A long time fan of the P.I. genre, Some Die Hard (1979) (featuring Denver gumshoe “Rock” Dugan) was his first book. Since then, he’s cranked out over sixty books, writing military action, paranormals, historical fiction, adult westerns, and even a vampire novel, as well as mainstream thrillers, but he’s probably best known (to those in the know) for his Men’s Adventure books, penning some of the very best Executioner/Mack Bolan novels as “Don Pendleton,” and creating the bestselling MIA Hunter and Cody’s Army series, as “Jack Buchanan” and “Jim Case,” respectively. He’s a popular lecturer on writing, and has appeared as a guest speaker before writer’s groups and at universities. He currently lives somewhere in the American Southwest, and is always at work on a new book.


  • “Stephen Mertz writes a hard-edged, fast-paced thriller for those who like their tales straight and sharp.”
    — Joe R. Lansdale
  • “The cleanest, strongest prose in the business.”
  • Sweet Blackmail starts out with one of the niftiest, most reader-grabbing sequences I’ve come across in a long time… Highly recommended.”
    — Wayne D. Dundee



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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