John Wallis & David Roche (Bug & Roach)

Created by Wilson Toney

JOHN “BUG” WALLIS and DAVID ROCHE (everyone seems to insist on pronouncing it “roach”) are a pair of seen-it-all investigators for the National Detective Agency, a long-established firm, headquartered in some unnamed city in the Midwest, looking into everything from late night car accidents to high-level corporate malarkey, published by Stark House books, who normally publish hard-boiled pulp fiction from the fifties and sixties.

But it’s obvious why Stark House published this series by Wilson Toney–it’s rolled in nostalgia and coated with noir. The books may be set in the present, but Bug and Roche are right up Stark House’s alley–hard-boiled men prone to bad habits and bad choices, constantly running into bad men, bad women and bad luck. Sure, they have computers and cellphones, but the stories could be set in 1956.

Their saving grace? Bug and Roche may bitch and snarl and crack wise like an old married couple, but they’ve got each other’s backs. And they’re damned fine investigators, if not always model employees. In fact, the office drama–resentful coworkers, endless paperwork, corporate interference, rejected expense accounts, bad coffee, a disapproving boss, etc.–it all adds to the series’ charms. They’re not cynical, not exactly. They’re just tired.


Wilson Toney was born in 1952 and raised on a farm, before packing it in to become an engineer, travelling the world. But after retiring, he took up writing. After a few standalone novels (A Genesis Found, Big Murder on Campus (2019), which was followed by the publication he began the Bug and Roche series with Alibi for a Dead Man (2019),followed shortly after with Not Worth That Much and Drug of Choice, published together as a Stark house double in 2021. Married for over forty years to the only woman that would put up with him, the author claims his only claim to fame is that he used to live across the way from a man who married a lady that was hit by a meteorite.


  • Alibi for a Dead Man is a nonstop thrill ride with memorable characters, snappy dialogue, and a compelling plot. Author Wilson Toney keeps readers turning the pages as he piles on the complications while smoothly shifting back and forth between converging crimes.”
    — Timothy J. Lockhart
  • “This is not so much pastiche as homage to the hardboiled detective novel, switching out some of the hero-anti-hero virtues and skills for less sophisticated motives and bad attitudes, but not totally there are plenty of laughs and knowing moments that entertain but the strong plot has a few hard edges too. Toney is very good at building a picture and drawing disparate story strands together.”
    — Paul Burke
  • “Newbie fiction writer Wilson Toney delivers a lean, humorous, fast-moving crime story with a nod and a wink to pulp fiction maestro Carter Brown. Alibi for a Dead Man is the first in what promises to be an entertaining series.”
    — Nicholas Litchfield
  • “… on a casual reading, one might think that these stories were written back in the 1950s or ‘60s … they have the flavor of the old Gold Medal or other paperbacks of that earlier era.”
    — Ted HertelDeadly Pleasures


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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