Robert J. Randisi

Pseudonyms include Robert Leigh, Joe Roberts,W. B. Longley, Robert Lake, Spenser Fortune, Joshua Randall, Tom Cutter, J.R. Roberts, Joseph Meek, Cole Weston, Lew Baines, Paul Ledd, Jack Hild, Spencer Fortune and Jon Sharpe
House pseudonyms include Nick Carter and Warren Murphy

(1951-)

‘Stages of development’ are for people who write one book a year.
— Bob would discuss this further, but he’s got three books to write
.

He’s been called a hack. He’s been called astonishingly prolific. He’s been called “the last of the great pulp writers.”

He refers to himself as “the world’s biggest private eye nut,” and certainly, more than anyone else ROBERT J. RANDISI HAS fought to ensure that P.I. fiction gets some respect.

No, not just through his many splendid contributions to the genre in the form of his fictional eyes creations of Miles Jacoby, Henry Po, Nick Delvecchio or a host of others, as entertaining as they may be, but through his tireless promotion of the genre through his numerous non-fiction articles, his co-founding, with Ed Gorman, of Mystery Scene magazine and most of all through his founding of The Private Eye Writers of America in 1981.

With its annual Shamus Awards, which recognize excellence in the genre, its encouragement of writers in the genre, and its high visibilty throughout the world of mystery fandom, the PWA has worked steadily through the years to make sure the genre remains not just respected, but vital and potent.

And Bob’s no love-’em-and-leave-’em kinda guy — despite annual presidents (all private eye writers themselves) Bob still pretty much runs the show. If Bob says “no,” the PWA don’t go.

Not to slight his fiction, mind you. Booklist may damn him with faint praise, tagging him as “the astonishingly prolific Randisi… (who) may be one of the last true pulp writers, earning his living through quantity more than quality…” but his P.I. work, the one genre for which he reserves his real name, is generally excellent, full of sharp dialogue, deft characterization, clever plotting and a fine, fine sense of setting, particularly those that take place in New York City. There’s also a good deal of wit, and more than a few sly winks (and sometimes pokes) at other writers’ work.

But that’s just one slice of the Randisi pie.

Even more amazingly, the bulk of Randisi’s vast output isn’t even in private eye fiction–he claims to have written over 500 novels in various genres, under a slew of pseudonyms.

How many pseudonyms? He himself said, in a 2011 Barnes & Noble interview that there were “Probably around sixteen, at this point. I don’t think I’ve forgotten any. Most of those were used during the 80’s, when I was writing twenty books a year–twenty-seven in 1984! This is probably the major difference between publishing today and then. It would be very difficult for an author to write that many books a year these days, although I’m still doing about fifteen or so.”

(Well, now there’s Kindle Unlimited, although there is some doubt to about the amount of actual “writing” involved–the editor)

In fact, Randisi’s biggest claim to literary immortality may not even lay in the mystery genre — it just may be the 400 or so western novels he’s pumped out, including at least nine or so different series, the longest running of which is The Gunsmith series (over 300 books, and counting), which he writes as J.R. Roberts. A card-carrying member of The Western Writers of America, he’s also written and created The Tracker series (as Tom Cutter); the Angel Eyes series (W.B. Longely): The Bounty Hunter series (as Joshua Randall); the Mountain Jack Pike series (as Joseph Meek); and the Ryder series (as Cole Weston). He has also written as Lew Baines, Paul Ledd, Jon Sharpe and Robert Lake.

Mind you, many of Randisi’s westerns owe as much to private eye fiction as they do to the standard horse opera fare. Many feature hired guns, lone lawmen and Pinkerton agents, current or retired, as their protagonists, investigating crimes and tracking down the bad guys. In fact, private eyes — or at least private eye-like characters, abound in his fiction, whether it’s an historical, a thriller, a Men’s Adventure yarn, or a science fiction/fantasy. Hell, he’s even written porn featuring a rather well-endowed private dick, with at least four short stories relating the adventures of Max Nolan, Erotic P.I. in Beaver Magazine.

But fear not — Bob does have scruples. He draws the line at romances. Although he has claimed he’d “write chick-lit if someone would pay me.”

He’s also served as uncredited (but not unacknowledged) collaborator with Warren Murphy on the Destroyer and Trace series. He’s currently writing the Joe Keough series, featuring a New York City detective transplanted to the Midwest where he’s now the St. Louis department’s “number-one homicide man,” and even more recently, a series of “Rat Pack Mysteries” wherein Frankie, Sammy, Dino et al get to ogle babes and make like dicks, with the help of Sands pit boss and troubleshooter Eddie G.

* * * * *

Randisi was born in Brooklyn, New York, and although he has occasionally claimed to never have made a living other than as a writer, earlier bios mentioned his stints as a mailroom manager and a collection clerk, before nabbing a job as an administrative aide to the NYPD in 1973. He began writing at fifteen, and made his first professional submission at the tender age of eighteen, landing his first sale at twenty three. By the age of thirty, he had quit the police department to write full time. Like his Joe Keough character, he now lives in St. Louis with his wife — and occasional writing partner, Marthayn Pelegrimas, a well-respected writer of horror and speculative short fiction. As “Chrisitine Matthews,” she’s co-written three mystery novels with Randisi featuring Gil and Claire Hunt, edited a few mystery anthologies and served as the Membership Chairperson for the PWA.

UNDER OATH

  • “And here’s the other thing about Bob Randisi: yes, his career’s long, and distinguished, and bountiful. But in my opinion — not humble, but in this case, informed — what’s really special about Bob, and the reason he deserves every honor we can give him, is how much he’s done for the rest of us.
    — S.J. Rozan

NOVELS

WESTERN NOVELS & SERIES

(INCOMPLETE; PENDING FURTHER INVESTIGATION)

  • NOVELS
  • Targett (1971)
  • Angel Eyes: Chinatown Justice (1985; by W.B. Longley)
  • Angel Eyes: Death’s Angel (1985; by W.B. Longley)
  • Angel Eyes: The Miracle of Revenge (1985; by W.B. Longley)
  • The Ham Reporter (1986; Bat Masterton & Damon Runyon) Buy this book | Kindle it!
  • Broadway Bounty (1988; by Joshua Randall; New York City, 1800s)
  • Frontier Marshall (1989)
  • The Ghost With Blue Eyes (1999)
  • Invitation to a Hanging (2003; Widowmaker)
  • Lancaster’s Orpans (2004)
  • Turnback Creek (2004; Widowmaker)
  • Leaving Epitaph (2004; Sons of Daniel Shayne)
  • Backshooter (2005)
  • Vengeance Creek (2005; Sons of Daniel Shayne)
  • Trapp’s Mountain (2005)
  • Pearl River Junction (2006; Sons of Daniel Shayne)
  • The Gamblers: Butler’s Wager (2007) | Buy this book
  • Blood Trail to Kansas (2007) Buy this book
  • The Gamblers: Denver Draw (2007)
  • The Gamblers: Texas Bluff (2008)
  • Double the Bounty (2008; Decker)
  • The Lawman (2008; Decker)
  • Texas Iron (2008)
  • Beauty and the Bounty (2009; Decker)
  • Bounty on a Baron (2009; Decker)
  • The Further Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (2012)
  • Bullets and Lies (2012; Talbot Roper)
  • Rocky Mountain Kill (2012; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • Commanche Come-On (2012; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • Chinatown Chance (2012; Tracker)
  • The Oklahoma Score (2012; Tracker)
  • Big Gun Bushwhacker (2013; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • Bulls Eye Blood (2013; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • Deep Canyon Kill (2013; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • Fire in the Hole (2013; Mountain Jack Pike)
  • The Reluctant Pinkerton (2013; Talbot Roper)
  • Mountain Man’s Vengeance (by Robert Lake)
  • Blood Trail To Kansas (by Robert Lake)
  • Backshooter (by Robert Lake)
  • Texas Iron
  • SERIES
  • The Gunsmith Series (1982- present; as J.R. Roberts)
  • Tracker Series (1984- 85; as Tom Cutter)
  • The Angel Eyes Series (1986- 88; as W.B. Longley)
  • The Bounty Hunter Series (1986- 88, as Joshua Randall)
  • The Mountain Jack Pike Series (late 80’s; as Joseph Meek)
  • The Ryder Series (as Cole Weston)

SHORT STORIES

OTHER SHORT STORIES, DATE UNKNOWN

  • “The Missing Bust” (Beaver Magazine; Max Nolan; as Spencer Fortune)
  • “Hitch Humper” (Beaver Magazine; Max Nolan; as Spencer Fortune)

COLLECTIONS

MULTIPLE AUTHOR COLLABORATIONS

ANTHOLOGIES EDITED BY RANDISI

 

NON-FICTION

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

W=Western
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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