Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Robert Wright Campbell

Photo of Robert Wright CampbellBiography
Robert Wright Campbell, born in Newark, New Jersey in 1927, studied painting and fought in the Korean War before beginning his writing career. After his discharge from the army, he moved to Hollywood and began writing for television westerns such as Maverick and Bronco. He coined the term “La-La Land” for Los Angeles based on his Whistler private eye series set in Hollywood. In addition to the three mystery series he authored, he was also a writer of screenplays, stage plays, and scripts for other television series. Campbell was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay of “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” Campbell’s first novel, written during a Hollywood writer’s strike, The Spy Who Sat and Waited, was nominated for the 1976 National Book Award. Campbell died in 2000.

What he writes: Campbell's most famous protagonist was Jimmy Flannery, a Chicago city sanitation worker and politico in 1980s Chicago. Jimmy typically finds himself between big city corruption and the crimes he must solve or prevent. In another series we meet down-at-the-heels private eye Whistler who works in a grittier, more noir-ish Los Angeles. In the standalone novel Boneyards, Ray Sharkey is a corrupt Chicago cop, tough and vengeful, but a loving family man. Jake Hatch is a railroad detective on the California Zephyr. Campbell also wrote under the name R. Wright Campbell and under the pseudonym F.G. Clinton.

 

List of works

Jimmy Flannery series
  The Junkyard Dog (1986) The Gift Horse's Mouth (1990)
  The 600-Pound Gorilla (1987) In a Pig's Eye (1991)
  Hip-Deep in Alligators (1987) Sauce for the Goose (1994)
  Thinning the Turkey Herd (1988) The Lion's Share (1996)
  The Cat's Meow (1988) Pigeon Pie (1998)
  Nibbled to Death by Ducks (1989)  
     
Whistler series
  In La-La Hand We Trust (1986)  
  Alice in La-La Land (1987)  
  Sweet La-La Land (1990)  
  The Wizard of La-La Land (1995)  
     
Jake Hatch series
  Plugged Nickel (1988)  
  Red Cent (1989)  
     
Standalone novels
  Boneyards (1982)  
  Juice (1988)  
     

Awards

1986 Edgar Allen Poe and Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original for The Junkyard Dog.

 
What the critics say
"It is hard to imagine a more perfect rendering of people and place than Campbell delivers in the voice of his unlikely hero, Chicago sewer inspector and Democratic committeeman Jimmy Flannery." - Publishers Weekly
"It's a grand piece of writing Mr. Campbell has given us in this dark crime novel [Boneyards], whose silver-tongued obscenities offer up a genuine lament for those who commit crimes of loyalty." - The New York Times Book Review
"There's no shortage of page-by-page pleasure for fans of Campbell's neo-Runyonesque delivery, his darkly comic violence, and his hip colorations – which at their best are on a par with those of Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard, and George V. Higgins." - Kirkus Reviews

 

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