Tuesday, 7 June 2016


Gar Anthony Haywood was a discovery of mine 20 plus years ago on a trip to London and the capitals now defunct world famous bookshop – Murder One.

I used to get a twice or thrice yearly fix of US crime long before Amazon took over the world and e-books became the norm. I’m not sure if Haywood ever got published in the UK. I think most if not all of my copies of his books are US imports.

He had 6 in his Aaron Gunner series, published between 1988 and 2000, 3 books in another series and 4 standalone novels, a couple published as Ray Shannon.

From memory I have about 12 of his 13 books and have read only 2 or 3 of them. The rest I’ve been saving for a rainy day!

Full bibliography courtesy of Fantastic Fiction……

Aaron Gunner Mystery
1. Fear of the Dark (1988)
2. Not Long for This World (1990)

3. You Can Die Trying (1993)
4. It's Not a Pretty Sight (1996)
5. When Last Seen Alive (1997)
6. All The Lucky Ones Are Dead (2000)

Joe & Dottie Loudermilk
1. Going Nowhere Fast (1994)
2. Bad News Travels Fast (1995)
Nowhere to Go and All Day to Get There (2014)

Cemetery Road (2009)
Assume Nothing (2011)
Man Eater (2014) as Ray Shannon (2003)
Firecracker (2014) as Ray Shannon (2004)

Brash Books have republished a couple of his standalones Firecracker and Man Eater.

Mr Haywood has his website here. Not sure how active/up-to-date it is.


Haywood deserves comparison with Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald and Walter Mosley.... It has been too long between books for a writer who has always belonged in the upper echelon of American crime fiction.

Haywood adroitly threads plots and subplots together, occasionally smashing character into one another with much brio and bloodshed.
Publishers Weekly

Haywood captures so well and perceptively a time, a place, and a likable protagonist in tough circumstances... Haywood is particularly adept at sliding social commentary into his carefully plotted tales. And his descriptions of Southern California are sometimes worthy of Raymond Chandler.
Los Angeles Times

A masterful mystery writer... Haywood's the real thing, all right, a formidable artist with something important to say about some of the most troubling issues of our day.
Chicago Tribune

Not Long for This World (1990)

A lawyer hires Gunner to help her prove that her gangland client is not a killer

Darrel Lovejoy doesn't owe South Central anything. By all accounts, he is lucky to escape this desperate corner of Los Angeles, to go to college and graduate into a well-paid advertising job. But something compels him to return. He dives into social work, attempting to mediate between the gangs which have brought hell to the streets he grew up on, and he makes slow but steady progress up until the day a shotgun blast cuts him down.

After an unusually forthcoming witness swears she saw a car of Imperial Blues kill Lovejoy, the police arrest Blue soldier Toby Mills. Suspecting a frame-up, Toby's lawyer hires private detective Aaron Gunner to vet the woman's story. To find out why South Central's favorite son had to die, Gunner will turn gangland upside down.

All The Lucky Ones Are Dead (2000)

Investigating the alleged suicide of a hip-hop star, Gunner uncovers a murder

Carlton Elbridge, better known as C. E. Digga Jones, was too nice for gangsta rap. When he allegedly shot himself, he had millions in the bank, his face on the cover of Time magazine, and a nation of fanatics to mourn his death. He was found in a locked room, gun in his hand and bullet in his brain, and the police assumed it was suicide. Only the rapper's father thinks otherwise.

Suspecting that his son was killed as the result of a hip-hop feud, Carlton's father hires private detective Aaron Gunner to investigate the death. As Gunner tries to juggle the case with security work for a conservative black talk-show host, he learns that for some in the hip-hop world, the thug life is much more than an act.


  1. I always like it when authors are willing to take on today's issues, and still keep the focus on the plot and characters. And this is certainly a part of Southern California that the tourists don't get to see. Thanks for sharing, Col.

    1. Cheers Margot. I'm remiss in not reading more from him in the past few years, but time's always an issue and I'm spoiled for choice. It's great when a mystery can be combined with social commentary without being preachy.

  2. Col, a lot of crime and mystery fiction doesn't make it to Indian bookstores, I'm sure. I read about them on Amazon and blogs such as yours.

    1. Years ago before the Internet and digital books, I was limited to buying books only really published in the UK.

      I used to use a personal bookfinder service in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. I used to send the guy a list of books I wanted and some dollar bills. He used to write back when he found something - no obligation, I would write back yes/no if I was happy with the price and condition and then he would post me the books. Probably took about two months. I got a lot of books that way and used that service for a number of years.

    2. Col – I read some Haywood back in the 90s, and have ALL THE LUCKY ONES ARE DEAD around here, somewhere, waiting to be read.

    3. Elgin, I'm glad someone else I know has enjoyed his work. He always seemed to fly a bit below the radar.

    4. That's interesting, Col. Almost like pen pals of books.

    5. Yes, he was a really nice man to deal with. His books were inexpensive, I always wondered whether he had a secondhand bookstore.

  3. I like your story about the US bookfinder - those were the days, eh?

  4. I will have to try this author someday. I am familiar with the name but I don't see his books much.

    1. Hope you enjoy him when you get to him!