Johnny Havoc

Created by John Jakes
Pseudonyms include Alan Payne, Jay Scotland, Rachel Ann Payne and William Ard

Care for a little cheese?

JOHNNY HAVOC‘s main claim to fame is that he’s short. In fact, at 5’1″, he’s got to be one of the shortest eyes around. But he sure doesn’t let it get him down–he’s a tough, cocky, unlicensed P.I. (“I’m no eye. Merely an exponent of free enterprise.”) who wears Brooks Brothers suits, a pork pie hat and one giant chip on his shoulder.

But that isn’t what makes him “the private eye — with a difference.”

Nor is it the constant craving for the big score or his extremely flexible set of ethics.

No, it’s the pint-size redhead’s raging libido that truly lingers after reading one of his adventures. Johnny’s chief preoccupation in life seems to be satisfying his “one-eyed wonder worm” which, coincidentally, seems to do most of his thinking for him.

No word yet on the height of that.

Anyway, as a result of his relentless and often reckless and Scotch-fueled pursuit of “dolls,” “babes” and “chicks” (an amazing number of whom apparently find the little stud irresistible), Johnny is frequently in need of assistance, if not downright rescue, from assorted thugs or over-amorous women. Fortunately, he can usually count on his cop frenemy Detective First Grade Fitzhugh Goodpasture.

As you may have guessed, these books are not to be taken too seriously. But they are worth checking out–they may be a little goofy, and Johnny’s preoccupation with sex—and his less than enlightened views on women in general—can get tiresome, but they’re good quick reads, and plenty of fun, particularly if you’ve got a taste for cheese, and you’ve already gone through all the Shell Scotts.

Originally a series of cheeky paperback originals put out by the relatively obscure Belmont press, Johnny finally got some hardcover respect in the early nineties when all four books in the series were reissued by The Armchair Detective Press, who at the time informed us that originally, author Jakes had envisioned Mickey Rooney as Johnny.


John Williams Jakes was born in Chicago and started out writing for the pulps in the early fifties, while still in college, but soon switched to writing longer works, eventually penning over a hundred sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, western and sports novels. He’s probably best known for penning the tremendously successful American Bicentennial series (ie. The Bastard, The Patriot, etc.) and the North and South trilogy. He also wrote three novels featuring William Ard’s private eye Lou Largo after Ard had passed away.


  • “She stood almost six feet… she had rich black hair and a dimpling expression that made it clear there wasn’t much upstairs. The lower floors, though, were swell.”
    — Johnny Havoc Meets Zelda


  • Johnny Havoc (1960) | Buy this book
  • Johnny Havoc Meets Zelda (1962; aka “Havoc for Sale”) | Buy this book
  • Johnny Havoc and the Doll Who Had “It” (1963; aka “Holiday for Havoc| Buy this book
  • Making It Big (1968; aka “Johnny Havoc and the Siren in Red” and “Havoc for Sale| Buy this book


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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