Great Cameos

Hey, Isn’t That…?

  • Stuart Kaminsky’s 40s Hollywood eye Toby Peters runs into Raymond Chandler himself sitting around a fleabag lobby, soaking up atmosphere, in Murder on the Yellow Brick Road (1977). And Toby also gets gambling tips and a hangover cure from Ian Fleming in the same book. In Buried Caesars (1989), Toby teams up with ex-Pinkerton Dashiell Hammett to solve a case, although actually this is a bit more than a cameo. I’m not sure if it qualifies for this list….
  • Bill Pronzini‘s Nameless detective meets (who else?) Bill Pronzini at a pulpwriter’s convention in Hoodwink (1981).
  • Joe Gores’ Dan Kearney, of DKA, encounters the Dick of Christmases Past in the form of The Continental Op in the 1972 Christmas/ghost story “File 6: Beyond the Shadow.”
  • Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder novel Drowned Hopes (1990) evidently shares an entire chapter in common with Joe Gores’ DKA novel Thirty-Two Cadillacs (1992). Is that coool, or what?
  • Fellow Detroit eye Amos Walker pops up with a hot tip for Rob Kantner’s Ben Perkins in “Dynamite Park,” a short story that first appeared in the December 1984 issue of MSMM.
  • In Robert J. Randisi‘s Miles Jacoby novel, The Steinway Collection (1982), Jacoby runs into Michael Collins’ Dan Fortune in Bogie’s Restaurant & Bar in New York City, and asks him for some advice; later he calls Bill Pronzini’s Nameless (referred to by the nickname “Wolf,” as in “Lone Wolf”) for some info on pulp magazines, and later in the same novel, Jacoby gets some help appraising a pulp magazine collection from a gentleman named Stuart Kaminsky, creator of the Toby Peters series
  • Speaking of Bogie’s Restaurant & Bar, not only does Miles Jacoby hang out there, but Warren Murphy’s Devlin “Trace” Tracy shares an office above it with his dad, Sarge, and partner, Chico, in the later books of the series.
  • In his one published appearance, Dave Garrity’s Peter Braid, is apparently a drinking buddy of fellow Big Apple eye Mike Hammer, and confers with Spillane’s hero several times over the course of his Dragon Hunt (1967).
  • And, getting really obscure… in the extremely pulpish short story, “The Piper’s Tune,” C.J. Henderson’s Jack Hagee fights Middle-Eastern desert bandits side-by-side with Bomber Brannigan, the bartender/ex-wrestler sidekick of Wayne Dundee’s Illinois hardcase, Joe Hannibal.
  • In the second chapter of Swan Dive by Jeremiah Healy (1988), John Francis Cuddy takes an early-morning run along the Charles:
    “Near a scullers’ boathouse, I almost collided with Robert Urich, practicing a firing stance with his .45 while filming a Spenser For Hire sequence on location.”
  • In Doubles (1978), by Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller, Pronzini’s Nameless and Muller’s Sharon McCone team up to crack a case after running into each other at a private eye convention in San Diego. Brock “The Rock” Callahan and Miles Jacoby do walk-ons.
  • John Shannon’s much-beleagured private eye Jack Liffey stops by Gary Phillips’ Ivan Monk‘s doughnut place for a bit of advice, and a possible lead, in The Cracked Earth (1999). Monk went on to appear in bit parts regularly throughout the series.
  • Jack Liffey also appears briefly, but memorably, in Nathan Walpow’s One Last Hit (2003).
  • Michael Connelly’s LAPD detective Harry Bosch makes an un-billed but hardly-unrecognizable cameo in Robert Crais’ The Last Detective (2003), featuring private eye Elvis Cole. Connelly returns the favor in Lost Light (2003), when Harry, who’s recently quit the LAPD and gone private himself, spots his neighbor, a certain LA private eye in a classic yellow ‘Vette, and gives him the “smooth sailing, brother” salute.
  • In the 1993 theatrical release of The Beverly Hillbillies, Granny goes missing and a very worried Miss Jane turns to P.I. Barnaby Jones, amazingly still “private eying” at eighty-five, to look for her. A class act, having the original Jed pop up (Buddy Ebsen played the Hillbillies patriarch, Jed Clampett for years, before eventually returning to television to play Jones.)
  • In Tangled June (1997), the final book in Neil Albert’s series featuring Dave Garrett series, the Philadelphia P.I. needs some background work done in LA and contacts Les Roberts’ writer and sometime gumshoe Saxon for help.
  • At one point in Robert Crais’ The Watchman (2007), Joe Pike, to avoid being spotted, exchanges his beloved red Jeep Cherokee for a Lexus owned by one of his employees.  In a neat bit of time travel, the Cherokee is promptly stolen by bank robber Max Holman in Crais’ 2006 novel The Two Minute Rule.


  • Michael Shayne allegedly shows up in one of Robert Kyle’s Ben Gates books. (Kyle was actually Robert Terrall, who wrote many of the Mike Shaybe books under the house name of Brett Halliday, so it seems likely).


Compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Entries contributed by Kevin Burton Smith , Christopher Mills, Gerald So, Kelly Levendor, Jim Doherty and Jan Long.

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