Mike Garfin

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

“This is a dangerous town, did you know?”


A Montreal eye!

Born of an Irish-Canadian father and a French-Canadian mom, MICHEL “MIKE” GARFIN was left an orphan at an early age, and raised by the nuns (it’s better than wolves, I guess). Anyway, it’s no doubt a contributing factor to his aversion to authority figures.

He joined the RCMP, but was tossed out for unspecified reasons. So now he’s making a living, working in late 50’s/early 60’s Montreal. Great local colour, decent hard-boiled action and Chandlerish tone.

In the fifties, when these books were set, Montreal was a  notoriously wide open city, “une ville ouvert.” The Catholic Church had its nose into everything, and yet gambling and prostitution were everywhere. It was so corrupt that even Raymond Chandler, in “The Pencil,” his last Philip Marlowe story, noticed. “Montreal,” he pronounced, “is almost as crooked as we are.”

Chandler wasn’t kidding – the entire town was open for business. Cops routiniely phoned ahead to warn bordellos and gambling joints of upcoming raids, while Sinatra was playing at the York, and Oscar Peterson was tickling the ivories down in Little Burgundy.


Martin Brett (a pseudonym of 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 Garfin books, he wrote several other hard-boiled novels (sometimes under the pen name of Malcolm Douglas) in the fifties and sixties, 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, Shout For The Killer and The Deadly Dames (featuring Montreal P.I. Bill Yates, who bears a suspicious similarity to Garfin.)

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.

The best darn Montreal eye (of an admittedly-limited field) I’ve read. Recommended.




  • September 5, 2023
    The Bottom Line:
     1954. Montreal’s wide open with gambling, drugs and prostitution. Sinatra’s playing at the York & Oscar Peterson’s tickling the ivories down in Little Burgundy. “Montreal,” Chandler sniffed, “is almost as crooked as we are.” Bienvenue.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith (original report, January 1999).

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