Category Archives: Uncategorized

3 Good Reasons – Nero Wolfe’s Best

NotQuiteDeadEnoughHither Came Conan has been a sucess over at Probably becuase I rounded up some excellent Robert E. Howard scholars to write the essays, instead of doing it myself! We’re just over halfway through the run. Here’s this week’s post, which includes links to all the prior ones. Make sure you check it out.

I’m currently writing some essays for another Conan-centric column I plan on doing after Hither Came Conan wraps up. That one is a secret, for now.

But today, I want to tell you about yet another column I’m working on over at Black Gate. It’s only going to run once in awhile for the rest of this year. But when I’m done with Robert E. Howard and Conan for a bit, at the end of the year, I’m going to turn my keyboard to Nero Wolfe.

I’ve written some Wolfe posts before, over at Black Gate (and even for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine). Now, I can more than hold my own about Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons. And I’ve written free, online newsletters to prove it! But the Wolfe and Archie stories by Rex Stout make up my favorite series of them all. Even more than the Travis McGee books from my favorite author, John D. MacDonald.

So, in 2020, I plan on writing a LOT about Nero Wolfe. And the cornerstone of Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone is going to be a look at several dozen of the stories, explaining why THAT one is the best of the bunch. Of course, since I’m not just picking the one I like the most…this should be fun. Here’s a link to the first entry in the series. See what you think!

You can also get to my other Nero Wolfe posts from that one.

Hither Came Conan – A New Series at

conan_frazettafrostgiantsWhile I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been busy on the web.

A (Black) Gat in the  Hand, my hardboiled pulp column ran every Monday morning over at from May 14th through December 31st. I looked at some neat stuff, and I had some friends help out with some great guest posts. It was a successful series, and there was a LOT more stuff I would have liked to tackle. It’s conceivable that I could bring it back for a limited run in 2020 or 2021. Here’s a link to the last post for the column: about Dwight V. Babcock and the famous West Coast Black Mask Writers Dinner.

It also includes a listing and links to EVERY post in the series – give it a look.

Because I figure if I stop contributing, the powers that be at Black Gate will change the password (or put somebody with actual talent into that Monday morning slot…), I started a brand new series on January 7th! Discovering Robert E. Howard was a fantastic series we ran a couple of years ago, with guest posts from some of the most knowledgeable Howard folks around.

hither_phoenixwt1I wanted to do something Howard-related again. But this time, focusing on his most famous creation: Bran Mark Morn. Just kidding! So, because it’s clear that my best work for Black Gate comes when I organize, as opposed to actually working at the keyboard, I rounded up another fantastic slate of guest posters – and randomly assigned one of Howard’s original Conan stories to each of them. And they have turned in outstanding posts, showing what is great in each story. Here’s an intro post for the series, which talks about how I came up with the idea and who is on board.

Bobby Derie kicked things off last week with a look at “The Phoenix in the Sword.” It’s a terrific essay! Later this morning, Fletcher Vredenburgh.

We’ll be back, every Monday morning at 9 AM EST, with a new essay covering all twenty-one completed Howard tales; and “Wolves Beyond the Border” as well.

Plus a few bonus posts from me (hey – it’s my series!) on various Conan-ish topics. We’re gonna run this series right into the summer. So, make it a point to check out each week’s essay – an PLEASE, join in the discussion in the Comments section. I think there’s going to be some great stuff there.



Hugh B. Cave’s Peter Kane Anthology

The Complete Cases of Peter Kane (The Dime Detective Library)

by Hugh B. Cave, introduction by Bob Byrne

Kane_MyIntroNo longer a Boston police officer, hard-boiled drunk Peter Kane made the easy transition to work as a P.I. Though now in private practice, Kane had a knack for cracking cases while constantly inebriated. Collecting the entire series, along with an all-new introduction by Bob Byrne.

Written by Hugh B. Cave, Kane stumbled through nine gin-soaked yarns published between 1934 and 1942 in the pages of Dime Detective, the prestigious crime pulp second only to the legendary Black Mask in its impact on the genre.

Contains the following stories: “The Late Mr. Smythe,” “Hell on Hume Street,” “Bottled in Blonde,” “The Man Who Looked Sick,” “The Screaming Phantom,” “The Brand of Kane,” “Ding Dong Belle,” “The Dead Don’t Swim” and “No Place to Hide.”

365 pages | $24.95 softcover | $34.95 hardcover

Just want to point out that I wrote the intro to this collection… Debuting at PulpFest in a few weeks and available shortly thereafter.

A (Black) Gat in the Hand

Gat_BigPulpsWell…the new column over at is slowly gaining traction. I’ve gotten some knowledgeable friends to sign on for guest posts, so you can look forward to learning a lot more about pulp on those Mondays!

I was re-reading Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep when I came across a well-known quote and decided it would make an even better column title than what I originally thought up – With a (Black) Gat – though I think that’s till pretty good. So, A (Black) Gat in the Hand is now appearing every Monday morning at 9 AM EST at

If you type ‘Gat’ in the Search field, I think only my column will come up. Though you could enter my name and get a whole lot of posts: some even worth reading!

Gat_BDPDalyAlso, if you are on Facebook, friend me (Bob Byrne). I’ve been doing at least a couple of posts a week under the title, Back Deck Pulp. I talk a little about some author or short story I’m reading, with an illustration or cover from it. Usually taken while I’m sitting on my nice back deck (often showing a bony knee). Thus: the title. Think of the series as a supplement to the column. They’re neat little posts. I’ve done so many I’ve already written two future A (Black) Gat in the Hand posts containing Back Deck Pulps. And there’s more coming!

Here’s a list of what we’ve covered so far at Black Gate, with links. As well as posts I’ve already written and are coming up.

George Harmon Coxe
Raoul Whitfield
Hardboiled Anthologies
Frederick Nebel’s Donahue
Thomas Walsh

Black Mask – January, 1935 (6/18/18)
Norbert Davis’ Ben Shaley (6/25/18)
D.L. Champion’s Rex Shackley (7/2/18)
Dime Detective – August, 1939 (7/9/18)
Back Deck Pulp #1 (7/16/18)
W.T. Ballard’s Bill Lennox (7/23/18)
Black Mask – May, 1934 (7/30/18)
Erle Stanley Gardner’s Ed Jankins (8/6/18)

And I’m constantly working on more subjects, such as Erle Stanley Gardner’s the Phantom Crook, more Norbert Davis (under-appreciated pulpster), Frederick Nebel’s Cardigan, John D. MacDonald (my favorite author!), Paul Cain, Horace McCoy, Hammett and Chandler of course, and many more.

I think we’ve got a pretty neat column going on over at Black Gate and it’s a worthy successor to The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes, which I wrote in the same time slot every week for three years. And the Back Deck Pulps are nifty little nuggets of info on FB. Come see what’s going on!

I’m Back With a New Weekly Column!

BlackMask_November1930_DonahueHammettIf you are here reading my personal blog, you probably are aware that for three years, I wrote a weekly column over at the World Fantasy Award-winning website,

The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes primarily focused on mystery-related topics, but I wandered all over the place (to my Editor’s chagrin), writing about whatever bright, shiny object attracted my attention – often role paying game and Robert E. Howard-related.

A couple weeks ago, I started a new weekly column at Black GateWith a (Black) Gat. ‘Gat’ was a Prohibition-era term for a gun.

I’m digging into one of my literary loves; the hadboiled PI field.

Working largely from a couple of anthologies and several other books on my shelves, every week there’s something new on an author, story or novel: primarily rooted in the  thirties and forties.

Week one took a look at George Harmon Coxe and his news reporter, Flash Casey. Last Monday it was Black Mask mainstay Raoul Whitfield. Up tomorrow is a discussion of some of the anthologies I’m using for the posts.

I think there’s some pretty good stuff in the weeks and months ahead. Check in every Monday morning and see what’s on tap. You never know when I’ll have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.

If you didn’t get that Raymond Chandler reference, you really do need to read my column!

Screenshot (2).png



Tolkien’s Sword – Anglachel

Anglachel_BelegI had a burst of activity over at One post took an in depth look at one of Tolkien’s magic swords from The Silmarillion. If you’re not familiar with the history of Anglachel, you need to click on over and check it out.

The Silmarillion is a fascinating collection of epic stories that weave in and out of the history of Middle Earth. It can be a tough read, but there’s a lot of great stuff in it.



Back on the REH Foundation Awards Preliminary List

Howard_FoundationPlaqueFor the third year in row, I’m honored to make the Long list for the Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards. I made the short list in 2016 (but didn’t make the cut last year), though I didn’t win. That’s fine. I’m a latecomer to Robert E. Howard (as I am with Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe) but he’s become my second favorite author, behind only John D. MacDonald. And that might even change. So, I’m glad folks find my Howard scribblings worth reading.

I got nominated for this essay, which posits that the Conan tale, “The God in the Bowl,” is actually a police procedural before the term was even in use. I’m also up for the emerging scholar award.

I’ve set aside Holmes and Pons these days to focus on Conan tales – Howard’s and others’. REH was simply a fantastic writer. And not just of sword and sorcery stories.


And, I want to mention that there’s only five days left in my buddy David Marcum’s latest kickstarter. The first four Solar Pons collections by August Derleth have been out of print for over forty years. No more! They are being reissued by Belanger Books under David’s direction. And the other Derleth collections are coming shortly.

My Pinnacle paperbacks are falling apart. Don’t miss out on the chance to get the best Holmes pastiches we’ve seen yet.


I’m Not Dead! Just not Writing Much…

Conan_BlackColossusNo updates this year here on my blog. Huh. I’ve not been too active with my writing, though I’m reading Robert E. Howard and Conan-related material at a furious rate. There will be some essays coming as a result.

Back in January, I did a post over at, looking at some of the better Conan pastiches that have been written, with opinions from Howard Andrew Jones and Ryan Harvey mixed in. It was the second-most popular post of the month, so that’s not too bad.

That’s been my only Black Gate post this year – I better get going or they will take away my login!

James Schmidt, who runs the Mighty Thor JRS blog, let me do a guest post. I wrote about three Conan stories that are linked by the political scene in Kjoraja (“Black Colossus,” “Shadows in the Dark” and Conan the Renegade).

I liked the idea and may do a couple more posts on REH stories which other authors build on, such as “Beyond the Black River.”

I backed the Conan RPG Kickstarter from Modiphius. Fellow Black Gater Gabe Dybing did as well and he offered to run a Play by Post on FB to explore the system. We added Martin Page and his son Xander and we just got underway. There will be several Black Gate posts related to our venture; the first of which we’re editing now.

I haven’t been in the mystery world for months, but I might write a guest post at another blog in which I talk about a lesser-known Solar Pons story, “The Burlstone Horror.”

Well, just an update to let folks know I’m still around. And I share a lot of thoughts and information on Facebook (Bob Byrne). I’m practically a Cliff Claven of trivia.

My Thoughts on New Robert E. Howard Pastiches

I had an interesting experience the past couple of days. As you know, I am a huge fan of Robert E. Howard. I think he’s the best fantasy writer we’ve seen yet. And as showed with its Discovering Robert E. Howard series, he wrote well in several genres.

From what little I know (like I ever let THAT stop me), I don’t think that Cabinet is going to take ‘The Tor Approach’ and crank out a lot of mediocre pastiches (some were good, like Conan the Rogue by John Maddox Roberts and John Hocking’s The Emerald Lotus, but many were not). And I certainly don’t expect nearly a dozen Age of Conan spin offs (I hope not).

And if they get a good line editor (I’ve got a vote for that one) and quality authors, I think REH fans will be pleased to see new stories featuring Steve Harrison, or Sailor Steve Costigan, or El Borak, or Solmon Kane or whoever (I love Conan, but REH wrote about a lot more than just the mightily-thewed Cimmerian).

Harry Turtledove’s Conan of Venarium came out in 2002. It’s been fifteen years since an REH pastiche. And even that one came five years after the prior Conan novel.

Cabinet could easily have gone another fifteen years without any new books about REH’s characters, so I’m excited. And I’m pleased it’s not just Conan. I would like to add some new REH books alongside my original text Del Rey editions.

Here’s how I choose to look at it: The rights holders focused on getting unabridged REH texts out there. So, we got the Del Rey series (which is what made me an REH fan) and some excellent books from the Robert E. Howard Foundation Press. We were weaned off of the de Camp edits. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt heading into the world of new REH pastiches.

Hopefully the Q&A will yield some more details on what we can expect. I do know that the first book will be out in 2018.  May it be the first of many.




RIP John (Watson) Hillerman

Hillerman_WatsonJohn Hillerman, best known as ‘Higgins’ on Magnum PI, passed away last week. The actor had a couple of Sherlockian ties.

The first was in the Magnum episode, Holmes is Where the Heart Is. Patrick MacNee (who himself played Watson three times and Holmes once) is David (nee, Sigerson), an old friend of Higgins. David thinks that he is Sherlock Holmes and he is out to foil a Moriarty plot. Higgins is forced to become a reluctant Watson. It’s a good episode.

Hillerman would play the real Watson a few years later opposite Edward Woodward’s Holmes in The Hands of a Murderer. That forgettable film was based on the script for The Prince of Crime, which was to be the third Ian Richardson Holmes film, before Sy Weintraub settled his lawsuit against Granada and packed up his project after two movies. (Richardson is just about my favorite Holmes).

Hillerman had a very Shakespearean voice and I would have loved to see him on stage, booming out the lines of Falstaff.