Sam Train

Created by Ernest Savage

According to our pal Marv Lachman, a man who certainly knows his way around a short story, San Francisco-based SAM TRAIN is “one of the best private eyes in short fiction.” I’m not sure about that, since there’s some pretty heady competition, including Dashiell Hammett’s The Continental Op, Raymond Chandler’s John Dalmas et al, Rob Kantner’s Ben Perkins and Bill Pronzini’s Nameless, and about a zillion others from the pulps of yore right up until the present.

Still, the Sam Train stories are certainly worth checking out. He’s an ex-cop in his mid-forties, a tall and rather taciturn guy who enjoys tennis, fishing and, rare for a P.I., fine art. He lives and works out of his apartment on Van Ness Avenue.

He quit the police force after nineteen years, following a particularly divisive strike, but he still has plenty of friends on the force, including Lieutenant West, out of Central Station, and Mike Phelps, a desk sergeant and a great source for info and traces. He has an ex-wife somewhere, but I’m not sure if we ever meet her.

The stories, which all appeared in various crime and detective digests, in the late seventies and early eighties, are all well-written, tough and taut, with a pleasantly credible edginess about them–something that that was often lacking in mainstream crime and mystery digests at the time.

Nothing spectacular, but good, solid, above-average private eye stuff. Check ’em out…


  • “The Small Hours” (November 1976, AHMM)
  • “Or Was She Pushed?” (December 1976, MSMM)
  • “Doc Wharton’s Legacy” (March 1977, EQMM)
  • “Visitor from Bangladesh” (March 1977, MSMM)
  • “Cleota” (June 1977, MSMM)
  • “Get Rich Quick” (March 1978, MSMM)
  • “Count Me Out” (June 1978, EQMM)
  • “The Man in the Lake” (November 1978, AHMM)
  • “Horse Player” (June 1979, AHMM)
  • “Coins at Large” (December 17, 1979, EQMM)
  • “Assignment in Geneva” (January 2, 1980, AHMM)
  • “One of Those Things” (June 18, 1980, AHMM)
  • “There Is No Tomorrow” (July 23, 1980, AHMM)
  • “The Miracle Day” (February 25, 1981, EQMM)
  • “The Best Man in Town” (July 15, 1981, EQMM)
  • “The Big Winners” (September 1984, EQMM)
  • “The Girl and the Ghost” (1984, Ellery Queen’s Anthology #51: Prime Crimes 2)
  • “The Reynolds Affair” (October 1987, EQMM)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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