The Big Stretch

The Longest-Running Series, By Number of Novels
(Not including short stories, collections or omnibus editions)

According to all the evidence I could gather, if you’re counting by books, the Larry Kent series by “Larry Kent,” a house name, is the longest-running P.I. series of all-time, while Le Manchot by Quebecois author Pierre Saurel (assuming he actually wrote them all) is the longest-running series by a single author.

I think.

A lot of these were pure pulp, hastily written and intentionally disposable, and therefore hard to find, nor were they all properly “novels.” Although printed as standalone books, and often billed as novels, many of these series (marked by an *) were would be more generously be described as “novellas,” ringing in at 160 pages (or even less). And just to add to the fun, the actual authors were often hidden behind pseudonyms.

Mike Shayne chalked up 77 books (not counting about a million short stories and novellas), although it took an army of ghostwriters to reach that total, while Christopher Bush’s Ludovic Travers clocked in at an impressive 63 all by himself, although Ludovic is not working as a private detective in all of the books. Full-time gumshoes Spenser and Nero Wolfe rank highly, although both series were continued after their creators had shuffled off this mortal coil.

Yes, I know—some of these counts may be off, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten somebody important. If you spot a mistake, I’m sure you’ll let me know, right? 


SHERLOCK HOLMES Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. This way lies madness… 1887– Ongoing
LARRY KENT* Larry Kent (house name) 431 1954-80’s 26 years
LE POULPE* Various 291 1995-2016 21 years
MIKE SHAYNE Brett Halliday (house name) 77 (29 by Halliday?) 1939-76 37 years
LUDOVIC TRAVERS Christopher Bush 63 1929 38 years
SPENSER Robert B. Parker (39), Ace Atkins (10), Mike Lupica, etc. 52 (and counting) 1973– Ongoing
NERO WOLFE Rex Stout (33), Robert Gainsborough (16) 49 1939– Ongoing?
LE MANCHOT* Pierre Saurel 47 1980-97 17 years
ED NOON Michael Avallone 45 1953-88 35 years
DANNY SPADE* Danny Spade (aka Dail Ambler) 42 1950-54 4 years
NAMELESS Bill Pronzini 41 1971-2017 46 years



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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