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.
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?
THE LONG RUN
|SERIES||AUTHOR(S)||NUMBER OF NOVELS||TIME SPAN||DURATION|
|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|
BUBBLING UNDER THE SURFACE
- DANNY BOYD by Carter Brown (39)
- GLENN BOWMAN by Hartley Howard (38)
- MARK PRESTON by Peter Chambers (36)
- SHELL SCOTT by Richard S. Prather (35)
- CLIFF HARDY by Peter Corris (35)
- RICK HOLMAN by Carter Brown (31)
- SHARON McCONE by Marcia Muller (35; ongoing)
- AMOS WALKER by Loren D. Estleman (31; ongoing)
- BERTHA COOL & DONALD LAM by A.A. Fair (31; one published posthumously in 2016)
- NESTOR BURMA by Léo Malet (29)
- JOHNNY LIDDELL by Frank Kane (29)
- PETER CHAMBERS by Henry Kane (29)
- JACK REACHER by Lee Child; Andrew Child (28; ongoing)
- MIKE HAMMER by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins (27; ongoing)
- KINSEY MILLHONE by Sue Grafton (25)
- TRAVIS McGEE by John D. MacDonald (21)
- DAN FORTUNE by Michael Collins (17)
- One and Done
Private Eyes Who Only Appeared in One Novel
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.