Who Was Brett Halliday?

Hmmm…sounds like a case for Mike Shayne

Davis Dresser, the original Brett Halliday, allegedly wrote only fifty (ONLY!) of the Mike Shayne books, with a little help from ghostwriters such as Ryerson Johnson, and twenty-seven more were written by Robert Terrall. And then there were the 300 or so short stories that appeared in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, most of which weren’t written by Dresser at all.

But, as Ben–and numerous others–have pointed out, it’s not entirely clear if Davis Dresser wrote even 50 Shayne novels. Ben goes on to say:

“I’d guess the origin of this claim might come from the fact that around the time of the 50th novel, Dresser had just sold the series to Dell. But what I’ve read is that he had stopped writing the books some years before that. The last one written by him is supposed to be Murder and The Wanton Bride from 1958 which was the 29th novel. After this maybe Dresser was still making contributions to some novels with other writers. After Mike Shayne’s 50th Case the last 20 novels are written by Robert Terrall. It’s the 19 novels after Wanton Bride and up to 50th Case that are the most fuzzy as to the authorship.”

  • Robert Arthur
  • Michael Avallone
  • Hal Blythe and Charlie Sweet
  • Edward Y. Breese
  • Hal Charles
  • Richard Deming
  • Davis Dresser (the original Brett Halliday-fifty novels!)
  • Peter Germano
  • Ryerson Johnson (allegedly “helped” Dresser with the first fifty Shayne books)
  • Frank Belknap Long
  • David Mazroff (1 story, possibly others)
  • Dennis Lynds (the most prolific, with approximately 80 stories)
  • Sam Merwin Jr. (MSMM‘s first editor)
  • Bill Pronzini and Jeff Wallman
  • James Reasoner
  • Robert Terral (27 novels)
  • Robert Turner

FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS

Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

2 thoughts on “Who Was Brett Halliday?

  1. I always liked the Mike Shayne books. I read most of them decades ago before I realized that Brett Halliday was not an actual person. Once I found out, I still liked reading about Shayne and his adventures “Halliday’ was not Chandler or MacDonald and he wasn’t Spillane but I found the novels to be consistently entertaining – not deep perhaps but fun to read.

  2. Yeah well, I’m not sure that Davis Dresser wrote 50 Shayne novels though. I’d guess the origin of this claim might come from the fact that around the time of the 50th novel, Dresser had just sold the series to Dell. But what I’ve read is that he had stopped writing the books some years before that. The last one written by him is supposed to be “Murder and The Wanton Bride” from 1958 which was the 29th novel. After this maybe Dresser was still making contributions to some novels with other writers. After “Mike Shayne’s 50th Case” the last 20 novels are written by Robert Terrall. It’s the 19 novels after Wanton Bride and up to 50th Case that are the most fuzzy as to the authorship.

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