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Slot-Machine Kelly: The Complete Private Eye Cases of the One-Armed Bandit Hardcover – November 15, 2005
100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Before he wrote novels about Dan Fortune, the one-armed detective, Dennis Lynds (writing as Michael Collins) wrote shorter fiction about another one-armed crime-solver, Patrick X. Slot-Machine Kelly is a war vet who turned to the private eye game to earn a buck. The stories, like Kelly himself, are rougher than the Fortune tales: less compassionate, less elegant, less self-aware. This collection, which spans the years 1960 to 1965, allows the reader to follow the literary evolution of Kelly, and of Collins, who broke into the commercial-fiction racket with his Slot-Machine stories. Although it would be easy to regard Kelly as a rough-draft version of Dan Fortune, to do so would be a huge mistake: Kelly is his own man, fully realized and, in his own uncultured way, immensely appealing. This collection delivers a real treat for fans of hard-boiled detectives and a bittersweet reintroduction to Collins, who died in August 2005. David Pitt
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About the Author
Robert J. Randisi is the creator and author of "The Gunsmith, " the popular Western series with more than 250 novels and more than 5 million books in print, which was written under the pen name J.R. Roberts. Under various pseudonyms, he has created and written the series "Tracker, Angel Eyes, The Bounty Hunter, Mountain Jack Pike, " and "Ryder." Western novels that have appeared under his own name are "The Ham Reporter, Targett, The Ghost with Blue Eyes, Legend, " and "Miracle of the Jackal." He has also edited the Western anthologies "White Hats, Black Hats, " and "Boot Hill."
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Top Customer Reviews
I pointed out to someone once that writing stories is like announcing sports, there is play by play action and there is color commentary. At a penny a word, an author had to crank out a lot of words to make any money, and good authors became adept at the color commentary. Reading the stories from start to finish, one can see the development of both the main characters in the stories, and also the development of the author as a writer as he honed his writing skills.
The author finished the editing shortly before his death last year, and added introductory comments before each story, something of possible value to fledgling writers. The main character in the stories eventually evolved into Dan Fortune, and a collection of those short stories is available separately (see Fortune's World). The author was an exceptionally talented writer, able to devise a large number of plots.
The last story, "Viking Blood," is obviously the best, and raises the question of where a person's obligations lie, i.e., to his family, to society, to his friends, or possilby to himself. This applies to a lot of characters in the story. Will a mother sacrifice a child for the good of the family? Will a son go against a family's interests to save himself? And who do you need to fear the most?
Like most collections, the stories have a somewhat mixed quality, and you will like some better than others. It is especially recommended to fans of PI type fiction.