As I’ve been telling
anybody who’ll listen for
nearly forty years now, one of my favorite paperback writers is Harry
Whittington. But this isn’t about him. It’s about a friend
of his, Day Keene. Whttington and Keene shared an agent (Donald
MacCampbell), which might explain why the two turned up so often at the
same publishing houses, places like Phantom Books, Original Novels,
Ace, Graphic, Pyramid, Avon, and of course Gold Medal.
Something else Whittington and Keene had in common
was the ability to tell a story that hits the ground running and never
lets up. A case in point is Keene’s Take a Step to Murder (Gold
Medal, 1959). Here’s the opening paragraph:
In the beginning God created heaven and
In the beginning there were no Sputniks or Explorers. In the
beginning Kurt Renner had no intention of killing Kelcey Anders.
The thought never entered his mind. He merely intended to use him.
Renner is one of those guys who turn up in paperback
originals fairly often. He’s returned to the town where he grew up
(poor, of course) and now he’s about to make good. He’s built a
restaurant and motel right beside a new highway, and there are only two
problems: the highway has been delayed, and he’s mortgaged to the hilt
and a little beyond. So he has a plan. It’s not a good
plan, and in fact the sexual nature of it is likely to be highly
distasteful to modern readers. (You have to wonder, in fact, just
what readers thought of it in 1959.)
He’s going to use Kelcey Anders, as the opening
paragraph tells you, and that’s fine because Anders is such a louse
that he deserves whatever happens to him. But Renner’s going to
use someone else, too, some who doesn’t deserve it, a woman named
Tamara, who goes along with the seedy scheme because she loves Renner
(hard as that may be to believe, considering his plans for her).
Nothing ever goes right with schemes like these, as
anybody know reads paperbacks knows, and Kelcey Anders does indeed turn
up dead. Just how and why is a little complicated, and the
answers might surprise you just a bit, though there’s so much going on
that you’re not likely to have time to think about them until
later. Which is just as well, as some of them are a tad
implausible. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Harry Whittington never attempted a private-eye
series, but Keene did. He wrote two books about an L. A. based PI
named Johnny Aloha for Pyramid Books. (Whittington’s Pyramid
novels included the soapy The Young
Nurses and Nita’s Place,
political novel called Journey Into
Violence, and the always popular on
eBay Guerilla Girls.)
Keene’s two PI titles are Dead in Bed and Payola. The first
of these, Dead in Bed (1959),
has some familiar
elements, including the PI who’s big, tough, and irresistible to
women. Or maybe it’s just that all the women in the 1950s were,
to use the parlance of the times, nymphos.
As Aloha’s client puts it as she “pressed her body
and lips to [his], ‘What’s
the use of fighting it? I’m as sick
that way as Mother is.’” Sure, it’s hard to say that when
lips are pressed to someone else’s, but the women in 1950s paperbacks
were nothing if not resourceful. Besides, as Aloha points out,
the words were “more of a moan than
Moaning aside, Dead
in Bed is a solid private-eye
story, with Aloha looking for a missing woman with a seamy past, while
dodging bullets, Chinese gangsters, and passes from beautiful
babes. OK, he doesn’t dodge all the passes, but he does find the
woman and the solution to a couple of murders. You might guess
part of the solution, but you probably won’t be able to put the pieces
together quite as neatly as Aloha does.
Day Keene’s work was never less than professional,
and it was always entertaining. If you don’t have him on your TBR
list of ’50s paperbackers, you should certainly put him there.
first appeared in Mystery*File 41,
DAY KEENE: A
by Steve Lewis
US editions only. * = listed
in CFIV as having only marginal crime content. pbo =
This Is Murder, Mr.
Herbert and Other Stories. Avon #159, 1948.
• If a Body Meet a Body. Detective Tales, June 1946.
• Sweet Tooth of Murder. Dime Detective, June 1944.
• This Is Murder, Mr. Herbert. Detective Tales, Nov 1944.
• With Blood in His Eye. Detective Tales, Nov 1945.
Framed in Guilt.
M. S. Mill - William Morrow Co., hc,
Graphic #51, pb, 1952.
Macfadden 60-234, pb, 1966.
Blackmask.com, trade pb, August 2004.
Farewell to Passion.
Original Novels #712, pbo, 1951.
As The Passion Murders: Avon #684, pb, 1955.
Love Me and Die.
Phantom #504, pbo, 1951. FOOTNOTE (1).
Paperback Library 51-156, pb, 1962.
Manor 95287, pb, 1973.
My Flesh Is Sweet.
Lion #68, pbo, 1951.
Macfadden 75-243, pb, 1969.
Blackmask.com, trade pb, August 2004.
*About Doctor Ferrel.
Gold Medal #254, pbo, August 1952.
Gold Medal #617, pb, 2nd pr., 1956
Home Is the Sailor.
Gold Medal #225, pbo, February 1952.
Macfadden 60-336, pb, 1968.
Leisure Books (Hard Case Crime), pb, March 2005.
(1). There is a story behind this book, and I will allow
Lynn Munroe to tell it to you as he has told it to me: “When
I did a checklist for Gil Brewer, I interviewed Gil’s stepdaughter, who
told me that when Gil died, he left a box of his own books, the books
he had written (which they donated to the University of Wyoming
library). One of the books in Gil’s box was Love Me and Die by Day Keene. The
story I was told was Gil had taken one of Day Keene’s pulp stories and
expanded it into novel length. It was supposed to be published as
a collaboration, but as these things sometime happen, it was released
under Day Keene’s name only. Unfortunately, nobody in Gil’s
family could tell me the original title of the pulp story.”
Bill Pronzini points out that the Dwight Vincent who co-authored Chautauqua with Keene was Dwight V.
Babcock, the pulp writer and author of the “Homicide
for Hannah” books. The
book itself is a straight novel, he adds, set in the 20s, but it does
have criminous elements.
(3). Juri Nummelin pointed out that
this book was missing in an earlier version of the bibliography.
Indeed it was, but where should it go? Al Hubin does not include
it as even marginally crime-related in Crime Fiction IV. But perhaps
it is. Here is a composite of Juri’s
followup comments: “It clearly has
criminous elements. I’m
not so sure about the murder I thought was committed, with someone
trying to find out who did it. But there is a police officer
whose daughter who is missing, and since we are in Mexico, the officer
is crooked and deals cocaine. Otherwise it’s a
potboiler sex and romance novel. I started this two or three
years back, but for some reason or another – it was entertaining
alright – I’m still on page 31. So I can’t really
tell. Hope this still helps.”
There you are. Judge for yourself.
(4). This particular pen name is not included in the
current edition of Crime Fiction IV.
Thanks to Lynn Munroe for revealing it to me in an email I
from him last year. The dates of the reprint Cameo editions are
due to the detective work of the indefatigable Victor Berch.
THE RADIO SCRIPTS OF DAY
KEENE, by Victor A. Berch
A couple of years ago, I started to
identify the script writers of various episodes of the old-time radio
(OTR) program, The First Nighter.
While looking for a folder I had on American
Magazine for another project, I found the First Nighter folder. I was
pleasantly surprised to see that a fellow by the name of Gunard
Hjerstedt had scripted some episodes. Here they are, to be added
to the Day Keene bibliography:
“Little Lost Lady,” aired
Feb 8, 1935.
“John Brown, Gentleman,” aired
Feb 22, 1935.
“The Eternal Light,” aired May
“Mountain Music,” aired March 20, 1936.
“Dear Aunt Lulu,” aired April 10, 1936.
“Preliminary Girl,” aired Oct 23,
“Star of Peace,” aired Dec 25,
“Last Curtain,” aired Jan 22,
A log of the entire run for The First Nighter (1930-1953) can
be found at Jerry Haeniges’ website, among other
Another radio program that Keene (also as Gunard
Hjerstedt) wrote at least one script for was Behind the Camera Lines, a
Chicago-based program. Here’s the one episode I know about:
“48 Hours to Live,” aired
September 18, 1936.
In Bill Pronzini’s run down on Day Keene
in 20th Century Crime Writers,
Bill hints at Keene’s soap opera writing days without mentioning any
Following up on this, while perusing some of the
copyright records, I’ve found out that one of the programs that
Keene was involved in was the soap opera Kitty Keene, Incorporated, about a
female who runs a detective agency. Keene was one of the
scriptwriters from the get-go. From Episode No. 1 through No.
410, he co-scripted the program with Wallace K. Norman, creator of the
series. After that, he was mainly by himself as
scriptwriter. The program ran from September 1937 through April
1941. His name has showed up also as one of the scriptwriters for
Little Orphan Annie
The Kitty Keene
show aired quite a bit earlier than the dates given in the radio
reference books, and I will have to pin that down. More on all of
this as time goes on, as I learn more.
PULP FICTION OF DAY KEENE: A
Bibliography by Steve Lewis
The first six stories that Day Keene wrote were published under his
real name, Gunard Hjertstedt. Once he switched and became Day
Keene, he was off and
From that point on, for nearly twelve years in a row, he
had a story
somewhere almost every month, and often two or three. You can
often tell from the titles what kind of stories these were, and if you
can resist stories with titles such as “A
Corpse Walks in Brooklyn” or “Keep
Out of My Coffin!” then you are a stronger
person than I am.
fiction that appeared in the detective pulps is here. Once in a
while a story was reprinted, but to the best of my knowledge, only its
first appearance is recorded here. A big thank you to Monte
Herridge, who pointed out that I had omitted the Hjertstedt stories in
a previous version of this list. They are now included.
Thanks also to Bill Pronzini, who added several stories from Argosy, Blue Book and Five Novels; to Richard Hall,
who sent titles and
dates for about twenty missing entries from Short Stories magazine.
Keene also had stories appear in the western pulps,
and I suspect that most of the stories still missing will have appeared
in those magazines. Pat Hawk has compared his list with
mine, to our mutual advantage. Any additions or corrections will,
course, continue to be accepted and acknowledged. Please help if
researching these old
also not be forgotten. The late Michael L. Cook was a friend of
and his work in indexing and filing away information, long before
computers came along, is gratefully acknowledged.
bibliography is an ongoing project. Recent additions are in
As by Gunard Hjertstedt
“Pure and Simple” Detective Fiction Weekly, Oct 31, 1931.
“I Hadda Hunch” Detective Fiction Weekly, Nov 21, 1931.
“Excuse My Crust” Detective Fiction Weekly, Dec 5, 1931.
“Mr. Beaver, D. A,” Detective Fiction Weekly, Jan 30, 1932.
“Murder Mountain” Detective Fiction Weekly, Apr 16, 1932.
“Case of the Bearded Bride” Clues Detective Stories, May 1935.
As by Day Keene
“It Could Happen Here!”
Ace G-Man Stories, September 1940.
“Mr. Smith’s Flying Corpses” Dime Mystery, December 1940.
“Wake Up, America!” Ace G-Man Stories, January 1941.
“The Ghost of Cock Robin” Detective Tales, January 1941.
“The Human Equation” Detective Fiction Weekly, Jan 18, 1941.
“League of the Grateful Dead” Dime Mystery, February 1941.
“Danger! Dead Men! Detour” Detective Tales, April 1941.
“Those Who Die Laughing” Strange Detective Mysteries, May 1941.
“The Lady from Hellas” Detective Fiction Weekly, May 31, 1941.
“No Arrest, As Yet” Detective Tales, July 1941.
“Three Men from Hell” Dime Detective, July 1941.
“Captain Friday, Corpse Agent” Detective Tales, August 1941.
“Last of the Fighting Ainsleys” Ace G-Man Stories, September 1941.
“Your Adversary, the Devil” Blue Book, September 1941.
“Murder in Paradise” Dime Mystery, September 1941.
“The Island God Forgot” Strange Detective Mysteries, October 1941.
“Hook, Line and Sinker” Detective Tales, October 1941.
“Eight Who were Hanged” Short Stories, Oct 25, 1941.
“The Stars Say Die!” Detective Tales, November 1941.
“The Eternal Light” Five-Novels Monthly, November 1941.
“The Murder Frame” Thrilling Detective, December 1941.
“The Wages of Sin” Star Western, January
“Murder Bound” Detective Tales, February 1942.
“The Man Who Could Not Die” Five-Novels Monthly, February 1942.
“The Charlie McCarthy Murders, Detective Tales, March 1942.
“The Corpse That Ran Away” Dime Mystery, March 1942.
“Big Shot” New Detective, March 1942.
“Murder Is My Sponsor” Detective Tales, April 1942.
“A Slight Mistake in Corpses” Detective Tales, May 1942.
“Whose Corpse Am I?” Short Stories, May 10, 1942.
“Who Have Sown the Wind” Short Stories, May 25, 1942.
“Enter Pat Petunia” Big-Book Detective, June 1942.
“Till the Day You Die!” Ten Detective Aces, June 1942.
“Positively – the Final Appearance” 10 Story Mystery, June 1942.
“Cupid’s Corpse Parade” Dime Mystery, July 1942.
“The Mystery of Tarpon Key” Detective Tales, August 1942.
“The Corpse Confesses” Ten Detective Aces, August 1942.
“Keep Out of My Coffin!” Strange Detective Mysteries, September 1942.
“What So Proudly We Hail” Ace G-Man Stories, October 1942.
“Manana, Mug – Manana” 5-Detective Mysteries, Oct-Nov 1942.
“Blaze of Glory” Detective Tales, November 1942.
“A Hearse of Another Color” Dime Mystery, November 1942.
“The Widowed Brides of Cypress Key” Strange Detective Mysteries,
“Murder C. O. D.” Short Stories, Nov 10, 1942.
“Satan’s Jackpot” Detective Tales, December 1942.
“My Lady of the Darkness” 10 Story Mystery, December 1942.
“Credit the Corpse” 5-Detective Mysteries, Dec 1942-Jan 1943.
“The Double-Crossing Corpse” Detective Tales, January 1943.
“Rhapsody in Blood” Dime Mystery, January 1943.
“Wings for the Dead” Short Stories, Jan 25, 1943.
“$10,000 Worth of Hell” Strange Detective Mysteries, January 1943.
“Wings for the Dead” Short Stories, Jan 25, 1943.
“Herr Yama From Yokohama” Ace G-Man Stories. February 1943.
“Killer in the Snow” Detective Tales, February 1943.
“Lie Down – You’re Dead!” Dime Detective, February 1943.
“Exam for the Dead” 5-Detective Mysteries, Feb-Mar 1943.
“Reunion on Murder Mountain” Detective Tales, April 1943.
“He Who Dies Last, Dies Hardest” Detective Tales, May 1943.
“Sauce for the Gander” Black Mask, May 1943.
“Letter to a Marine” Detective Tales, September 1943.
“Corpse at the Wedding Feast” Dime Mystery, September 1943.
“Murder – As Usual” Flynn’s Detective Fiction, October 1943.
“Murder by Short Wave” Detective Tales, November 1943.
“A Great Whirring of Wings” Dime Detective, November 1943.
“The Man from Hell” Dime Mystery, November 1943.
“Seven Against the Gods” Nov 25, 1943.
“The Corpse Exchange” Detective Tales, December 1943.
“The Female Is More Deadly” Dime Detective, December 1943.
“Blood on the Good Earth” Detective Tales, January 1944.
“The Man Who Came to Kill” Detective Tales, February 1944.
“This Will Slay You” Detective Tales, March 1944.
“Out of This World” Private Detective, March 1944.
“Corpses Come in Pairs” Detective Tales, April 1944.
“The Night Con Steager Died” Short Stories, Apr 10, 1944.
“A Hero for Hell’s Backyard” Detective Tales, May 1944.
“Hell’s Scarlet Flower” Dime Mystery, May 1944.
“Three Dead Mice” Flynn’s Detective Fiction, May 1944.
“Sweet Tooth of Murder” Dime Detective, June 1944.
“Boy Kills Girl” Flynn’s Detective Fiction, June 1944.
“Murder is GI” Dime Detective, July 1944.
“Brother, Can You Spare a Grave?” Dime Mystery, July 1944.
“Death Is My Bride” Flynn’s Detective Fiction, July 1944.
“Manhattan Murder-Go-Round” Detective Tales, August 1944.
“Murder – Straight Ahead” Flynn’s Detective Fiction, August 1944.
“Make Mine Murder!” New Detective, September 1944.
“Seven Keys to Murder” Dime Mystery, September 1944.
“The Farmer’s Daughter Murders” Detective Tales, October 1944.
“This Is Murder, Mr. Herbert!” Detective Tales, November 1944.
“Kraal of the Seven Rogues” Jungle Stories, Fall 1944.
“The Case of the Reluctant Corpse” Detective Tales, December 1944.
“South of Suez” Short Stories, Dec 25, 1944.
“Silent Smith and the Hounds of Death” Detective Tales, January 1945
“So Sorry You Die Now!” Dime Mystery, January 1945.
“Dead – As in Mackerel!” Detective Tales, February 1945.
“Star Light, Star Bright” Hollywood Detective, February 1945.
“Charlie Bull Fiddle
Works It Out” Liberty, Feb 3, 1945.
“If the Coffin Fits–” Dime Mystery, March 1945.
“Help Wanted: Homicide” Argosy, March 1945
“Help! Help! Murder!” Short Stories, Mar 25, 1945.
“Dead on Arrival” Detective Tales, April 1945.
“Dance with the Death-House Doll, Detective Tales, May 1945.
“A Corpse for Cinderella” Dime Mystery, May 1945.
“A Corpse There Was” New Detective, May 1945.
“Or Would You Rather Be a Corpse?” Detective Tales, June 1945.
“Murder on My Mind” Detective Tales, July 1945.
“The Night I Died” Detective Story Magazine, August 1945.
“Nothing to Worry About” Detective Tales, August 1945.
“Spoilsmen on Safari” Jungle Tales, Summer 1945.
“Kill Me, Kill My Dog” Detective Tales, September 1945.
“Death-March of the
Dancing Dolls” Dime Mystery, September 1945.
“A Corpse Walks in Brooklyn” Detective Tales, October 1945.
“Affair on Buzzard’s Island” Private Detective, October 1945.
“Pee Wee and the Nazi Ice Man” Short Stories, Oct 10, 1945.
“With Blood in His Eye” Detective Tales, November 1945.
“The Woman Who Wouldn’t Stay Dead” Dime Mystery, November 1945.
“A Minor Matter of Murder” Short Stories, Dec 25, 1945.
the Halls of Montezuma” Adventure,
“As Deep as the Grave” Detective Tales, January 1946.
“Carnage By Candlelight” Ten Detective Aces, January 1946.
“The Little Black Pig” Short Stories, Jan 10, 1946.
“The Female Is More Deadly” Short Stories, Jan 25, 1946.
“Three Queens of the Mayhem” Detective Tales, February 1946.
“Doc Egg’s Graveyard Reunion” Dime Mystery, February 1946.
“Thanks for the Jeopardy” Short Stories, Feb 25, 1946.
“Death Is My Shadow” Private Detective, March 1946.
“Kitten on the Corpse” Detective Tales, April 1946.
“One Night, One
Spring” Good Housekeeping, April 1946.
“Red Rogue Killer” Jungle Tales, Spring 1946.
“Quietly My Hangnoose Waits” Dime Mystery, May 1946.
“Murder on My Mind” New Detective, May 1946.
“Education of a Fool” Short Stories, May 10, 1946.
“If a Body Meet a Body” Detective Tales, June 1946.
“Pardon My Corpse” Detective Tales, July 1946.
“Stay As Dead As You Are” Detective Tales, October 1946.
“Little Miss Murder” Detective Tales, November 1946.
“I’ll Be Seeing You” Dime Mystery, November 1946.
“Once Upon a Crime” New Detective, November 1946.
“Married to Murder!” Dime Mystery, January 1947.
“So Dead the Rogue” New Detective, January 1947.
“Come Seven, Come Slaughter” Detective Tales, April 1947.
“Death Comes Rustling” Short Stories, April 25, 1947.
“It Ain’t Hay, Brother!” Detective Tales, May 1947.
“We Are the Dead!” Dime Mystery, May 1947.
“Beaver, Beaver – One, Two, Three” Short Stories, June 10, 1947.
“Homicide House” Detective Tales, July 1947.
“Cats in the Night” Five-Novels Magazine, July-Aug 1947.
“Crawl Out of That Coffin!” Detective Tales, September 1947.
“A Better Mantrap” Detective Tales, October 1947.
“Fry Away, Kentucky Babe!” Detective Tales, December 1947.
“Hymie on the Spot” Detective Tales, January 1948.
“Eyes in the Night” New Detective, January 1948.
“No Grave Could Hold Him!” Dime Mystery, February 1948.
“Johnny Come Deadly” Detective Tales, March 1948.
“Deaf, Dumb, and Deadly!” Detective Tales, April 1948.
“For Old Crime’s Sake” Short Stories, Apr 10, 1948.
“No Match for Murder” Black Mask, May 1948.
“Marry the Sixth for Murder” Detective Tales, May 1948.
“Some Die Easy” New Detective, May 1948.
“Danny and the Big-Time” Detective Tales, June 1948.
“Thirteen Must Die!” Detective Tales, July 1948.
“Blonde Trouble in Nightmare City” Detective Tales, August 1948.
“An Eye for an Eye” Short Stories, August 10, 1948.
“Win, Place – or Die” Detective Tales, September 1948.
“Poor Little Murder-Girl!” Detective Tales, October 1948.
“The Lady Means – Die!” New Detective, November 1948.
“Corpse on Delivery” Dime Mystery, January 1949.
“Caught by the Camera” All-Story Detective, February 1949.
“Gun-Share” Fifteen Western Tales, February 1949.
“The Black Knight’s Errant” Blue Book, March 1949
“Homicidal Baby” Detective Tales, April 1949.
“Do You Take This Life?” New Detective, May 1949.
“Dead Men Do Tell Tales” Short Stories, May 1949.
“Knock Twice for Murder!” Detective Tales, June 1949.
“Beyond the Green Door” Dime Mystery, June 1949.
“The Death of You” New Detective, July 1949.
“Wait for the Dead Man’s Tide” Dime Mystery, August 1949.
“Three Graves Have I” New Detective, September 1949.
“Jungle Law at Satan
City” 10 Story Western, September 1949.
“The Laughing Dead” Dime Mystery, October 1949.
“Fight or Run” Argosy, November 1949.
“She Shall Make Murder” Detective Tales, November 1949.
“Two Can Die” New Detective, November 1949.
“Remember the Night” Argosy, December 1949.
“Mighty Like a Rogue” Dime Detective, January 1950.
“I’ll Die for You” New Detective, January 1950.
“They Call It Murder, Honey-Chile” Detective Tales, February 1950.
“Old Homicide Week” Detective Tales, April 1950.
“Murder – Do Not Disturb” New Detective, March 1950.
Fifteen Western Tales, March 1950.
“Claw Into Your Coffin” Dime Detective, May 1950.
“The Bloody Tide” Dime Detective, June 1950.
“Annie, Get Your Shiv!” Detective Tales, June 1950.
“The Bloody Tide” Dime Detective, June 1950.
“White Night of Murder” Detective Tales, July 1950.
“If the Coffin Fits” Two Complete Detective Books, July 1950.
“Babes in the Morgue” Dime Detective, September 1950.
“Murder Stop” Famous Detective, November 1950.
“Death Lies Dreaming” New Detective, November 1950.
“Polly Wants a Killer” Dime Detective, January 1951.
“Each Man in His Time” Adventure, February 1951.
“Blonde and Bad” Smashing Detective, March 1951.
“The Cop and the Doll” The Phantom Detective, Spring 1951.
“The Passing of Johnny McGuire” 15 Story Detective, May 1951.
“Death in the Sun” Fifteen Western Tales, May 1951.
“Wild Noose Chase” 10 Story Western, June 1951.
“My Little Gypsy Cheap-Heart” Dime Detective, August 1951.
“Red Hands Is Love” Dime Detective, October 1951.
Emancipation of George Appleby”
Esquire, February 1952.
“Hard One” Western
Short Stories, March 1952.
“Miracle on 9th Street” Thrilling Detective, April 1952.
“Swamp Scandal” Detective Tales, August 1952.
“The Man Who Died Four Times” Popular Detective, July 1952.
“How Deep My Grave?” Famous Detective, November 1952.
“Booty and the Beast” Private Eye, July 1953.
“Dead Dreams for Sale” Terror Detective, February 1957.
“The Geek Girl”
Adam, October 1961.
“Dead in Bed” Man’s Magazine, March 1962.
“For Old Crimes Sake” Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, December 1964.
Victor Berch has a theory of how Day Keene came by this
name. His suggestion is that it was
taken from his mother. From the census records in 1920, he
reports, she was known as Charlotte D. Hjertstedt, wife of Alfred
Gunard Hjertstedt. In the 1930 census, she is found to be Daisy
“I figure the family affectionately referred to her as Day (short for
Daisy) and her maiden name was Keeney, as given on the California death
record for Day Keene. Makes perfect logic to me.”
Day Keene’s son was also a writer. This
fact has been common knowledge, of course, among people who knew either
or his son. But as Victor was looking into the Keene family’s
background, he found Albert James Keene in the death notice above and
serendipitously matched this up with the fact that the real name of Al
James, author of many stories in the crime fiction digests in the
1950s, was actually Albert James Hjertstedt. And
voila! The pieces fit.
UPDATE: From Al Tonik comes the
following confirmation of Victor’s
The following is taken from an interview I had with
Talmage Powell on November 14, 1987, in Asheville,
NC. Also present was Nick Williams from Falls
Church, Virginia. It was published in Pulp Vault 5, June 1989.
Can you relate a couple of good
Day Keene and Robert Turner anecdotes?
At one time in the Tampa Bay area we had
quite a group of writers. I mean full time pro writers.
There was Day Keene, Bob Turner, myself, Bill Cox, Gil Brewer, Harry
Whittington, and John D. MacDonald. We had some good times
together. Especially Day and Bob Turner. They were lifelong
friends. It was with a great deal of pain that I witnessed their
passing. Day was about sixteen years
older than myself, but even so the age differential
made no difference as far as friendship was concerned.
What was Day Keene’s
real name and how did he get his pen name?
name was Gunard Hjertstedt. When Day began writing for the
magazines, he went up to the office of the editor who told him, “This
name is absolutely impossible. I would like to cover-mention this
story, but I am not going to put that name on the cover of the
magazine. Why don’t you pick out a good
pen name to work under?” On the spur of the moment, Day
remembered that his mother's maiden name was Daisy Keeney. Day
thought to himself that “If I can't use my father’s
name, I will use my mother’s.” He
contracted her name to Day Keene. That became his legal name.
His son, Albert James Hjerstadt, is
a writer and wrote under the name of Al James for quite a while.
He resides in Franklin, NC. Al is involved in publications for
Note: Al James has also since passed away.
According to Al Hubin, who was in touch with his widow, he died in 2001.
Richard L. Bleiler, The Index to Adventure Magazine
(Locus Press, CD-ROM, 2000)
William G. Contento, The
Michael L. Cook, Monthly Murder (Greenwood Press)
Michael L. Cook & Stephen T. Miller,
Mystery, Detective and
Espionage Fiction (Garland Press)