Created by Robert George Dean
Pseudonyms include George Griswold
“So this is what comes of trying to drink a woman under the table. Just a sacrifice on the altar of insurance!”
— Pat the morning after…
Tucked away in the wrinkles and folds of the Shamus Game is this little rarity—a hard-boiled private eye (well, actually, an insurance investigator) who’s in a steady relationship that’s not running on caveman stereotypes.
New York City’s PAUL ANDREW “PAT” THOMPSON is dating wicked-smart newspaper reporter Susan Barton, who uses her access to her paper’s morgue and other resources to help him out. Not content to be simply a convenient source or an even more convenient sounding board, however, she strikes out on her own to investigate, and proves to be as equally savvy as her beau.
Pat and Susan went steady in three books: The Sutton Place Murders, Three Lights Went Out and What Gentleman Strangles a Lady?, which were all published in 1936. As far as I know, they never tied the knot, which might be just as well. Four years later, Dean penned A Murder by Marriage, featuring his other series P.I., Tony Hunter, and the twosome are far too likable and too nice a couple for something like that.
But it’s not just me who thinks that Pat and Susan’s relationship is something special. The couple’s casual banter, while perhaps not quite in the Nick and Nora or Spenser and Susan league, is primo stuff.
As J.F. Norris remarked on Pretty Sinister Books a few years ago:
While the story seems dominated by men… the real interesting characters are the women…. Whenever Pat is interacting with a woman character… the book becomes much more interesting. Even… a seemingly insignificant maid… are better delineated with intriguing quirks than the many cookie cutter male characters we have encountered over and over in crime and detective fiction of this era… While the story seems dominated by men… the real interesting characters are the women… The scenes with she and Pat are probably the best in the book.
Maybe Dean was just ahead of his time. The Saturday Review of Literature took Dean to task for the couple’s “smart-alecky… spurious ebullience.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert George Dean‘s mysteries are “often quite clever, says one fan, “but his fiction could never quite live up to his own story of heroism as a volunteer ambulance driver in North Africa during World War II.” A journalist and later, a Wall Street broker, Dean was a quite successful mystery writer in the late 1930s through to the fifties. His first novel, The Sutton Place Murders, which introduced Pat andSusan, was published in 1936. He penned two more in that series, and went on to write ten books featuring hard-boiled private eye Tony Hunter, and four espionage capers under the pen name of George Griswold. According to The Finance Professional’s Post (hey, I read ‘em all), Dean often featured bankers and stockbrokers in his crime fiction, and subscribed wholeheartedly to “the conventions of rough-and-tumble detective noir. Violent, swaggering, swiftly moving prose characterizes his work.”
- “A lively story with complications that make it difficult to guess the solution.”
— Isaac Anderson on The Sutton Place Murders (February 16, 1936, NYTBR)
- “… a fast paced, intricately plotted mystery novel that I enjoyed. Looking forward to reading more of Dean.”
— J.F.Norris on The Sutton Place Murders (October 2019, Pretty Sinister Books)
- “Private investigator, Pat Thomson (The Sutton Place Murders) and his pal Susan, become well embroiled in kidnaping, murder and lots of double crossing. Confusion on the reader’s part results from an effort to maintain an extremely fast-paced yarn. Fair.”
— Kirkus Reviews on What Gentleman Strangles a Lady? (September 1, 1936)
- The Sutton Place Murders (1936) | Buy this book
- Three Lights Went Out (1936) | Buy this book
- What Gentleman Strangles a Lady? (1936) | Buy this book
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.