Al Delaney

Created by Thomas B. Black

Battered and scarred AL DELANEY is an op for the Redman Detective Agency in Chancellor City (don’t waste yot time looking it up–it’s ficticious). When the boss, ol’ Giles Redman himself, bites the big one and gets murdered in the first book, The Whitebird Murders (1946), Al (with the aid of a lovely lady eye by the name of Dolly Adams) keeps the agency going. Newsboy Bill Smith is also on hand, to provide a little gee-whizzes and an occasional alibi when Al gets himself into a jam.

Al’s a fun-loving guy, and isn’t a big fan of violence or gun play, but you wouldn’t know it from the amount of murder and mayhem that seems to follow him wherever he goes in these four tough, hard-boiled gems.

“Familiar and competent pre-Spillane pyrotechnicality with an avoidance of incidental cliches,” according to James Sandoe, noted critic of all things private eyeish, although he didn’t like the way Al constantly referred to women as “hairpins.”


Thomas B. Black was born in Kansas in 1910 and died on Treasure Island in Florida in 1993, and in between, he worked in a refinery, a credit institution, a bakery and a munitions factory, before trying his hand at writing detective fiction. In his brief career as an author, he cranked out only seven novels, but the four in the Al Delaney series were highly regarded when they were first published. Now he’s mostly forgotten, but his books are avidly sought by collectors in the know even now. According to an online post by his son Gordon in 2019, “My father struggled as an author and stopped only when hard boiled dectective novels no longer had a market, replaced as it were by sex and violence in the place of the adventures of Al Delany.”


  • “The little guy cried and that did it; I said I’d look for his wife.”
    — opening line of The Pinball Murders


  • “Excellent is the word for the new Al Delaney mystery. Every page is packed with action and a new clue.”
    — Louisville Courier-Journal
  • “…one of the better recent hardboiled debuts
    — Anthony Boucher on The Whitebird Murders
  • “The 3-13 Murders proved to be… one of the finest and cleverest hardboiled detective novels ever written, which I recommend, unreservedly, to all.”
    — Tom Cat (Beneath the Stains of Time)
  • a far above average hardboiled novel… good dialogue, credible toughness, solid plotting and plentiful excitement.”
    — Anthony Boucher on The 3-13 Murders
  • “Something doing on every page of this book”
    — The New York Times on The 3-13 Murders
  • “Smoothly written actionful number with some garishly wicked characters, neatly concealed culprit who works with not against cops.”
    — The Saturday Review on The 3-13 Murders



  • June 24, 2021
    That’s okay—they haven’t heard of you either. But the four novels from the forties are very thumbs up by people like Pronzini, Boucher & Sandoe. So of course they’re all way out of print. If only there were a publisher Brash enough to reprint them, but finding one would be a Hard Case… you could go Stark raving mad…
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The cover’s from the June 1947 edition of Detective Book Magazine, which supposedly ran the “complete novel.” Yeah, sure.

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