Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Robert Wright Campbell was one of my first crime/mystery author discoveries back in the late 80s.

He had a series of Jimmy Flannery books that were published in the UK. Flannery was a sewer inspector, but also part of the local political machine in Chicago. Each of the books featured an animal in the title.....Dog, Gorilla, Ducks, Alligators - 11 in total between 1986 and 1998.

Another series set in LA or La-La Land - 4 books featuring Whistler were interspersed with the Flannery books, as well as two with a railroad inspector - Jake Hatch.

I think one of my favourites of his was the standalone novel Juice released in 1990, though I can't for the life of me remember what it's about. A hike up to the attic and tub 30 could soon tell me but CBA!

Good job there's the internet to fall back on.......

With Juice, Campbell breaks out with his first non-series crime title, sure to be his biggest hit yet. Juice is a rollercoaster of a story that pulses with energy, suspense, and a healthy dose of offbeat humor. "Full of good-time crime and a pleasure to read".--Elmore Leonard.

Campbell was also a screenwriter and was the brother of William an actor in film and TV during the 50s and 60s and into the 70s.

Robert Campbell died in 2000. (Guardian obituary)

He had penned nearly 30 books by then. The Junkyard Dog won an Edgar and an Anthony Award. The Spy Who Sat and Waited - his debut novel was nominated for the National Book Award for Paperback Mystery in 1975.

Plugged Nickel (1988)


The night was pitch black, filled with driving rain when the California Zephyr jolted to a stop outside McCook, Nebraska. Somebody pulled the emergency brake, catapulting Jake Hatch out of the train – onto a severed corpse. He stumbled over the trousered bottom half. Someone else found the torso, neatly divided at the belt.

It was Hatch’s job to piece together the truth. All he had to go on was a book of sonnets and a money clip in one pocket, and three cigarette butts and a lipsticked handkerchief in the other. And a plugged nickel, now hidden in his own pocket – leading him to a criminal mastermind, a case of espionage, and an almost perfect murder.

The Spy Who Sat and Waited (1975)

Out of the Ashes

At the end of World War 1, a secret communique went out to German spies throughout the world; Maintain your cover and wait for orders. Will Oerter waited in Scotland. He fell in love. He began a family. But he never forgot.

The Reich Survived.

Then orders came. Missions. Beatings. Kidnapping. The chance for Oerter to become a Nazi hero – and the terrible duty of destroying his own world. The wait was over. The ultimate betrayal had begun.

“Irony, poignance, a moving love story, suspense, espionage, and much more” – David Westheimer, author of Von Ryan’s Express.


  1. I like the sorts of protagonists Campbell created, Col. A railroad inspector is an interesting idea for a character. There's something about that appeals to me...

    1. I really liked his work. Its funny when I was rounding up some likely pairings for my "2 BY" posts, I was taken by the railroad mystery and so I kept it close at hand and read it in a couple of days. I'm fairly sure I read it 20-odd years ago as small nuggets seemed kind of familiar. I really liked it second time around just as much.

  2. Col, "The Spy Who Sat and Waited" definitely sounds good. Anything with WWI & II and Cold War is for me.

    1. I thought that this one of the two might grab you more. I've already read the other one. This one looks good, but I think it's a book I'd need to read in a couple of sittings rather than meander through - maybe starting it on a quiet weekend!

  3. Col – I have Plugged Nickel. Now I want to read some of the Jimmy Flannery series. Thanks.

    1. Elgin, I re-read Plugged Nickel and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing how you get on with it or anything else you might try by Campbell.

  4. Some tempting plotlines there, but I really don't need any more books....

    1. I think you would enjoy him Moira, but hey, who needs more books? I understand.