Rick Harper

Created by David Mazroff

mazroff_msmmSan Francisco-based RICK HARPER is a “big, tough, hard” private eye whom the police seem to respect, and even turn to, when they just can’t seem to crack a case. He appeared a few times in the crime digests of the early seventies.

He’s six feet tall, thirty years of age, of Irish-Indian descent, and supposedly looks like Burt Reynolds. Figures. The humour’s about the same, too.

Anyway, Rick has a degree from MIT, knowledge of judo and karate, a reputation as a ladies’ man, and a background that includes stints as an All American football player for USC, an Air Force captain in Vietnam and an agent for both the CIA and the FBI. No wonder he’s known as a ‘man of unusual talents as a private investigator.”

Too bad it sometimes comes off as Boy’s Life-type stuff, all Gee-Whiz! and nothing particularly special. Then again, for better or worse, this is pulp!

And don’t you forget it!


David Mazroff seems to have been a popular writer, his byline appearing regularly in the sixties and seventies, mostly in Mike Shayne  and Charlie Chan Mystery Magazines. He was also responsible for a string of “True Crime Features” that ran in MSMM for several years, that were generally well-researched, even if a few liberties–presumably for dramatic effect–were taken, and he may have written a few of Mike Shayne novellas as well, writing under the Brett Halliday byline, although only one, “To Kill a Cop” from the August 1972 issue has been identified.

A 1973 newspaper article in the Florida Sun-Sentinel by a Kay Metzcher somehow laughably conflated Mazroff’s career with that of Brett Halliday’s, suggesting that Mazroff may have written as many as 500 Mike Shayne short stories and Mazroff, apparently playing along, offered that he had high hopes for his “new character,” Rick Harper, because “Mike Shayne’s kinda dead.” 


Actually, Mazroff spent most of his life pursuing another career–as Bear Alley‘s Steve points out, Mazroff did “indeed, have some insights into criminal activity not, as he claimed, from 40 years of writing, but from his own criminal activities.” Turns out that over the course of his criminal career, he was charged with armed robbery, blackmail, arson, and even the 1945 murder of a  senator (two other men were later convicted of the crime). Mazroff eventually served several prison sentences, but by the mid-fifties, had begun writing articles and stories for Argosy, Adventure and Guilty Detective Story Magazine, although they must have been under pen names, since it was was only in his seventies that stories and articles in his own name began appearing.


  • “The Snatch of Shirley Kale” (April 1973, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine)
  • “The Disappearing Trucks” (September 1973, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine)
  • “Cop on the Run” (May 1974, Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine)


  • David Mazroff
    Bear Alley’s Steve looks into the colourful life of the pulpster (November 2020, Bear Alley)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Cynthia Robinson for the lead.


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