The Curious Case of Carter Brown
Carter Brown books are the penultimate in bad tawdry sleaze/crime/sex novels, and guilty pleasures.
They”re so awful that they are good fun reads.
Carter Brown was the pen name for British-born Australian pukp writer Alan G. Yates, who had an extended deal with Horowitz publications for one 42,000 word novel a month plus two novelettes for periodicals like Long Story.
All were hardboiled sexual fiction featuring one of three heroes: L.A. County sheriff detective Al Wheeler, L.A. private eye Rick Holman, or LAPD cop Danny Boyd. neither three were much different from the other: they all had the same first-person voice and the same sexual libido, meeting the same blondes, hoods, and crooks.
His early books have a disclaimer at the end: “Written on an IBM Selectric.” Electric typewriters were like high end laptops in those days.
What is hilarious about the books is that Yates/Brown had no idea what L.A and Hollywood was like, other than a few trips there, he didn’t live there; writing from Sydney, AU, he just picked the locale because it was (and is) a popular setting for detective fiction.
It seems that Yates may have been ripped off by his publisher, which paid him about $1200/month U.S. for his output and licensed his books in America to Signet for $1500 each, not mention in Europe and elsewhere…it was doubtful Yates saw a percentage of these foreign sales, or royalties on the “50,000,000 Carter Brown books sold!”
I remember well reading these books in high school, even junior high. They were on the racks at the local library or could be had in bulk at used bookstores for fifty cents each, three for a dollar. You can still find plenty at the used stores, usually the ones with the 70s photo cover models, many of which were probably not penned by Yates but various ghosters — Robert Silverberg has stated he wrote one but had no idea if it was ever published, or under what title.
For fun, I picked up an early Brown, The Blonde…
Ah, how truly scummy and awful it was! And nostalgic! A Hollywood party girl is murdered and Det. Wheeler wheels his way through the L.A. slutty world, fucking as he detects.
The sex in the late 50s-60s Carter Browns were mild. The 70s books, I recall, with real models on the covers, were filled with “rods,” “pricks,” and “pussies,” and often ended in bloodbaths where everyone suspect was killed, so the case was thus solved.
Yet for all its trashiness, the Carter Brown novels were once Aussie’s most profitable literary export, and carved out a section of history in global sleaze paperback publishing.
In the October, 2004 issue of Australian Literary Studies, Tori Johnson-Woods wrote an essay, “The Mysterious Case of Carter Brown,” which we had presented here; however, Tori Johnson-Woods asked it to be removed because this person does not believe in the advancement of knowledge, strangely for someone who purports to be an “academic,” and given that the daily readership of this blog exceeds times three the readership of the obscure journal it once appeared. After all, you can read the whole article over there on Find Articles, so what does it matter if you read it here or click the link? Some people live to complain about the little things. But to keep Johnson-Woods from throwing a hissy-fit, we did as asked, and if you wish to read the article, you can go there, but we no longer support the research of this person.