Created by Robert Martin
Pseudonyms include Lee Roberts
Although Robert Martin‘s best known for the long string of novelettes and novels he wrote about Cleveland, Ohio gumshoe Jim Bennett (and his secretary and future wife, Sandy Hollis), he also penned several pulp shorts about equally sympathetic private eye LEE FISKE , occasionally under the pen name of Lee Roberts.
Martin’s apprenticeship in the pages of the pulps served him well when he moved to novels. As Lee Roberts, he also wrote about the crime-solving Dr. Clinton Shannon; who was sometimes known as Dr. Clinton L. Colby. But then, it wasn’t uncommon for character or author’s names to be changed in the headier days of the pulp fiction era, for various reasons–sometimes noble, sometimes not.
For example, Fiske’s first novel-length appearance, Little Sister (1952), which followed several short stories and novelettes, was an expanded version of the 1948 short story “Pardon My Poison,” which appeared under Martin’s real name in the April 1948 issue of Dime Detective. But in the novel, credited to “Lee Roberts,” Fiske’s name changes to Andy Brice.
But it didn’t really matter what you called him—Lee/Andy was pretty much the same private eye Martin specialized in: a low-key detective who calmly works his cases, able to handle the rough stuff, but not necessarily looking for it. Sure, he might crack wise a few times, but generally he’s just a working stiff, trying to do his job, even making nice with the cops when he has to.
Poor Lee had to wait until 1957’s The Case of the Missing Lovers before he officially got his own novel-length case.
Confusing? Yes. And the whole Fiske/Brice thing got even more twisted.
The first novel, Little Sister (the one with Brice, for those keeping score) popped up again in 1957 in England, with another detective. According to Chap O’Keefe in a post to James Reasoner’s terrific Rough Edges blog:
This story had a third, British incarnation in 1957 as number 384 of the Sexton Blake Library. The title became Victim Unknown, the settings English, the author byline Desmond Reid, and the PI character Sexton Blake. Somebody in the publishing authority at the Amalgamated Press, London, had rightly noted that a 1956 revamp to update the long-running Sexton Blake series had shifted its tone to a closer match with popular American books of the time, like Gold Medal originals. The reprint rights to a couple of Gold Medals were bought, but (ultimately) the amount of rewrite work to make them fit the Blake saga was not found cost-effective. Use of the Desmond Reid house name was subsequently limited to use on original work by British writers requiring lesser editorial adjustments or author anonymity.
Fortunately for all of us, in 2020, Black Gat reprinted Little Sister, with Brice once again handling the gumshoe work.
- “Case of the Careless Caress” (January 1948, Dime Detective)
- “Pardon My Poison” (April 1948, Dime Detective)
- “Just a Corpse at Twilight” (March 1949, Dime Detective)
- “A Corpse in Time” (October 1949, All-Story Detective)
- “Killer on the Town” (February 1950, 15 Story Detective)
- “Married to Murder” (August 1950, 15 Story Detective)
- “Death Under Glass” (February 1952, Dime Detective)
- “A Time Of Evil (March, 1954, Bluebook)
- “Husband’s Best Friend” (May 1955, Justice)
- Little Sister (1952) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Fiske is called Andy Brice in this one.
- The Case of the Missing Lovers (1957)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thank you, Vit.