Bill Yates

Created by Malcolm Douglas
Pseudonym of Douglas Sanderson
Other pseudonyms include Martin Brett
(1922- 2002)

At first I thought I’d discovered a long-lost Montreal eye here. And in a way I have. And in a way I haven’t.

BILL YATES is actually just Douglas Sanderson’s Mike Garfin with a different name, released by another publisher (Gold Medal instead of Popular Library) under another of Sanderson’s pen names (Malcolm Douglas instead of Martin Brett).

Like Garfin, Bill was born of an Irish-Canadian father and a French-Canadian mom, left an orphan at an early age, was raised by the nuns, and has a real aversion to authority figures.

He too joined the RCMP, but was also tossed out for unspecified reasons. So now he’s making a living, working in late 50’s/early 60’s Montreal. And as in the Garfin books, there’s great local colour, decent hard-boiled action and a pleasantly Chandlerish tone at times, although like most of Sanderson’s work, Spillane is the real inspiration. This is pure pulp, full of nastiness and violence, and some decidedly virulent comments about women, gays, the French and anyone else Yates finds lacking.

And it’s not just me who  thinks Yates is just Garfin travelling under another monicker. Loyal reader Juan Otter tracked down the 1950s French translation published by Serie Noire in the Grande Bibliothèque, and discovered that the alias Yates was never used—they just called him Garfin. Which of course is more evidence for my claim that they are one and the same, or as Juan says the Germans say, “they shit out the same hole.”


Ronald Douglas Sanderson was British by birth but later became a Canadian citizen. He wrote several documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and later returned to Europe. Besides the Mike Garfin books, he wrote several other hard-boiled novels (sometimes under the pen name of Malcolm Douglas) in the fifties and sixties, some of them tinged with humor, others rather heelish excursions into noir, including Exit In Green, Flee From Terror (set in Yugoslavia), Murder Comes Calling, Pure Sweet Hell, Rain of Terror, Prey By Night, And All Flesh Dies, The Final Run, Dead Connection and Shout For The Killer.

Some of these other books may have also been set in Montreal, and several were set in Europe. Brett passed away in 2002 in Alicante, Spain, where he had lived for many decades.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith (original report, April 2003).

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