Charlie Byrne

Created by Kieran Shea

Whoa now! Somebody pinch me! Charlie Byrne? Is there a full moon out tonight or what? How’s the whitest motherfucker this brother know?”
–Deech greets Charlie in “Happenstance Therapy”

CHARLIE BYRNE is a struggling Atlantic City-based private eye who appeared in a dozen or so hard, tough stories by Kieran Shea, both online and in print, that were pretty well received.

How tough were they? More than one of them was billed as “A Charlie Byrne Grind.” Although, to tell the truth, that’s probably closer to the mark–many of Charlie’s “cases” could more charitably be called “misadventures.”

But within those stories, Shea created quite a world–aJersey Shore full of colourful scammers and scoundrels and people who don’t even know they’re circling the drain, straight outta Born to Run. Like his hapless best friend, Stevie Maguire, house painter, barista, and small-time dope dealer. Or ex-hockey goon, Morgan, who had hung up his skates to become an enforcer for local mobster Dante Donofrio. Or Duncan “Deech” Houseman, who works security at Bally’s and is “built like shaved Kodiak bear who couldn’t pass on the all-you-can-eat barbecue bar.”

Or Charlie himself.

At one point, Shea even claimed to be writing a novel about his hard luck sleuth, but as early as October 2009, he was already bitching online about the stories.

“Yeah, I must be out of mind, pursuing P.I. fiction. All that dead genre nonsense, the giants who have walked before, and yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. But I can’t help myself. I’ve kicked open a box and I can’t close the lid, at least not yet. The genre has kind of grown on me, probably for worse, maybe for better.”

Yet he later admitted that “… writing all those shorts served a purpose. I’m so grateful for those who published any Charlie stories because it was immediate feedback and it helped me find the rhythm of my own voice. And for the record, I actually I did write a Charlie Byrne novel which will never see the light of day.”

Too bad. I would have loved to see Charlie stretch out. Now what’s to become of his three-legged, one-eyed cat Chomsky?

The world wants to know.


Kieran Shea’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery MagazineThuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crime FactoryNeedle: A Magazine of Noir and The Thrilling Detective Web Site). He also served as co-editor of D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney (2011)and has written several novels set 500 years in the future, featuring ex-corporate mercenary Koko Martstellar. He also claims he can sing “A Little Less Conversation” with a throaty Elvis confidence that he confesses, is “embarrassing to his family, friends and strangers.”


  • “In her introduction to (“The Lifeguard Method”), the editor points out that it was difficult to decide whether to put this tale in their Department of First Stories, or in their “Black Mask” section. They chose the latter, and it was a good choice. Without being able to say more, this is one of the most hard-boiled stories I’ve read in a long time.”
    — Steve Lewis (September 2020, Mystery*File)


  • “The Lifeguard Method” (August 2009, EQMM)
  • “Show and Tell” (September 2009, A Twist of Noir)
  • “Bad Referral” (October 2009, A Twist of Noir)
  • “Charlie and Stevie Do a Repo” (2009, Beat to a Pulp)
  • “Blue Skies Black” (February 2010, A Twist of Noir)
  • “The Takedown Heart” (2010, Beat to a Pulp)
  • “The Dying Art of Scramble And Scrape” (April 2010, A Twist of Pulp)
  • “Delivered” (June 2010, A Twist of Noir)
  • “Happenstance Therapy” (August 2010, A Twist of Noir)
  • “Shift Work” (March, May & July 2010, Crime Factory)
  • “Checkin’ the Czech” (September 2011, A Twist of Noir)
  • “Turnspit Blues” (2012, Beat to a Pulp)
  • “The Step Away” (2012, Beat to a Pulp)
  • “The Takedown Heart” (2013, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled 2)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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