Jack Webb

Jack Webb (Born John Alfred Webb, also wrote as John Farr; not to be confused with Jack “Dragnet” Webb) Born in California, 1916. Died in Coronado, California, 2008.

Jack Webb (not the “Dum-dah-dum-dum” Jack Webb, although the fact that both men created detective teams is an amazing coincidence) wrote a series of novels featuring an innovative detective duo–Jewish LAPD Detective Sammy Golden, and a Catholic priest named Father Joseph Shanley.

Webb’s first published novel, as well as the novel that introduced the Golden-Shanley team, was The Big Sin (1952). Sammy Golden is in his mid-30’s, served in WWII, and “still seems to happily turn to violence.” Father Shanley, also in his mid-30’s, ministers at St. Anne’s Church, tends to both his rose garden and to souls, and is “a fighter by instinct, a man of the cloth by devotion and inspiration.”

In spite of the presence of a Catholic priest, Webb’s books are not “cozy” mysteries. Webb writes tough, clipped, hardboiled prose reflecting the violence and corruption of Los Angeles and its environs. Webb describes one of Sammy Golden’s fellow officers thusly:

“Schwartz was a harness bull of the old school, the only man left on the force who had walked the South Central beat alone. There was talk of a confession he had got out of a naked stumblebum with a thick closed door between him and his wire coat hanger.” (The Deadly Sex, 1959)

And Webb describes Sammy Golden and a fellow officer named “Red” Adams as being, “Two personable young men well on their way to becoming experts in violent death.” (The Broken Doll, 1955)

Throughout the Golden-Shanley novels, it is usually coincidence that brings the two old friends together. Golden is a bachelor and something of a loose cannon; he often breaks with police procedure and gets demoted and put back in uniform. Shanley frequently has to pull Golden’s fat from the fire.

Webb published 10 books featuring the Golden-Shanley team, including The Naked Angel (1953), which concerns a missing stripper; The Bad Blonde (1956), which revolves around a robbery at a chemical company; and The Delicate Darling (1959), which includes a raging fire, a half-strangled girl, and triple homicide. A number of the Golden-Shanley paperbacks sport classic covers illustrated by artist extraordinaire, Robert McGuire.

Webb also contributed short stories to Manhunt, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine between 1954-1973.

Jack Webb

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