“Slot Machine” Kelly

Created by Dennis Lynds

Dennis Lynds’ one-armed misfit New York City private peeper “SLOT MACHINE” KELLY was more than just another defective detective–he was the dry run for the author’s later, far more successful one-armed misfit New York City private peeper Dan Fortune, which he wrote under his Michael Collins pseudonym.

Slot” showed up in a dozen or so short stories, mostly in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, back in the sixties. The 5’8”, 160-pound, slightly shady private eye, proud of being “almost legal” for twenty years, shared several traits with Dan, including his distaste for violence, and his compassion for life’s victims. He also shared some of Dan’s pals, most notably tough cop Captain Gazzo of the NYPD, and bartender Joe Harris, who actually narrates at least one of the stories. It was never quite explained how Gazzo and Harris never noticed the coincidence of two one-armed dicks in their lives, but hey… the pulps.

The stories, however, are more than just an interesting footnote, and stand up very well on their own. Some folks even prefer them to the Fortune books and stories, which some find a little too “preachy.”

Certainly, “Slot” played it a bit looser than Dan, and was definitely less prone to introspection. He was also a bit more willing to cut corners, and his past was considerably murkier, and darker. Still, many of the traits that make the Fortune series such a treat to read are already in place–an engaging and sympathetic hero, the quick wit, the nicely involved (and resolved) plots, and the detective’s sometimes surprising empathy, particularly for underdogs.

A few years ago, I pondered whether, maybe someday, some enterprising publisher would put ’em all in one volume, and concluded that “until then, they were worth tracking down.” Well, it turns out that maybe, just maybe, Crippen & Landru were listening.

In 2005, Slot-Machine Kelly: The Complete Private Eye Cases of the One-Armed Bandit, a collection of almost the entire run, was released, complete with an intro by Robert J. Randisi. Was that cool, or what?


Dennis Lynds was prolific as all get out, writing as William Arden, John Crowe, Carl Dekker, Mark Sadler and a slew of other pen names. His most famous creation may be Dan Fortune, but he’s also found time to create P.I.’s Paul Shaw and Kane Jackson. He also wrote many of the Mike Shayne short stories for Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine under the house monicker of Brett Halliday.


  • “It’s Whiskey or Dames” (August 1962, MSMM; aka “If the Whiskey Don’t, the Women Will”)
  • “The Dreamer” (September 1962, MSMM)
  • “The Bodyguard” (October 1962, MSMM)
  • “The Carrier Pigeon” (February 1963, MSMM)
  • “The Blue Hand” (April 1963, MSMM)
  • “The Price of a Dollar” (June 1963, MSMM)
  • “Even Bartenders Die” (August 1963, MSMM)
  • “Death for Dinner” (October 1963, MSMM)
  • “The Heckler” (November 1963, MSMM)
  • “No Way Out” (February 1964, MSMM)
  • “Winner Pay All” (May 1964, MSMM)
  • “The Hero” (May 1965, MSMM)
  • “Viking Blood” (April/May 1966, Manhunt; also 1999, Pure Pulp)


  • Slot-Machine Kelly: The Complete Private Eye Cases of the One-Armed Bandit (2005) | Buy this book



  • Dennis Lynds
    The official site, still maintained by Gayle Lynds. Features an extensive bibliography, a list of his numerous awards, ordering info on his books, even some of his short stories, and–last time I checked– one of his last stories, the Edgar-nominated “The Horrible, Senseless Murders of Two Elderly Women.”
  • Dennis Lynds, 1924-2005
    The Mystery Community Pays Its Respects…
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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