Art Hardin

Created by Robert E. Bailey

In his acclaimed, Shamus-nominated first outing, Private Heat (2002), Robert Bailey’s retired counter intelligence officer turned private op ART HARDIN is asked by a prominent Grand Rapids, Mich., lawyer to protect his niece from her abusive cop husband. But there’s way more here than first meets the eye. It turns out the niece was doing the nasty with her employee, a securities company official , who’s just turned up dead. Oh, and there’s the matter of eleven or so million dollars missing.

It’s an auspicious debut for Hardin, an affable family man and an appealing gumshoe with a quirky eye for detail and a rather unique way of expressing himself. Like, “He started plumbing his costume for a cigarette.” Plumbing?

And “I took a long pull on my smoke, extracted it from my face, and looked out over the river.”

Now, for a bit of local color: “Popsicle sticks weathered to gray and the silver pull tabs from beverage cans littered the ground.”

Anyway you look at it, it was a quirky but well-written, deftly-plotted debut, featuring a likable detective with a fresh and distinctive voice, and pays more attention to the actual P.I. business than most. And the supporting cast, including his staff, wife Wendy (who runs an industrial security business and who’s more than capable of backing up her man) and their kids, are well-integrated into the story — a true rarity in detective fiction.

But gee, dear ol’ Dad seems to get whacked around quite a lot.

So far, Art and Wendy have popped up in two well-received sequels, Dying Embers (2003) and Dead Bang (2007) and received a fair amount of favourable buzz at the time.

Author Bailey is a retired private investigator, a Vietnam vet, and an award-winning combat pistol shot. He divides his time between Richmond, Virginia and Grand Rapids.


  • “… the family man as detective, marked by and the author’s quirky, distinctive voice, but the P.I. stuff is never skimped on.”
    — Kevin Burton Smith (Mystery Scene)



  • “The Small Matter of Ten Large” (2012, Amazon) Kindle it!
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, Craig.

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