Friday, 14 January 2011

The Cowboy and the Detective

New Zealand-based author Keith Chapman, who writes as Chap O`Keefe, was kind enough to contact me recently after a reading a review of mine. My review, of  Walter Tyrer`s  The Strange Affair of the Shotgun Sniper, was posted on 4 Dec 2010 at The Sexton Blake Blog and  Mr Chapman`s comments are posted below the review.

MR C was basically contacting me to fill in a few gaps in my knowledge of the life of  author Walter Tyrer. I knew that Tyrer was born in a tough part of Liverpool and began his career writing school stories in the `20s and `30s, before branching out into romances, westerns and detective stories, including a number of rather quirky tales for the Sexton Blake Library series. He published some books, but made his name, and a considerable amount of money, writing as a freelance for the popular story magazines of the day, eventually setting up home in a rather swish residence on the banks of the Thames.  Keith was able to add to this that Walt then moved to Hove (Sussex) and penned some episodes of Coronation Street, also writing for Micron Publishing  under the name J T Lang - his only pseudonym as far as I know.

Just as interesting is Mr Chapman / O`Keefe`s own career. Having encountered fictional detective Sexton Blake as a child in 1952 (John Hunter`s the Case of the Crooked Skipper was the first Blake he ever read), he was fortunate enough to work at Fleetway House on the editorial staff of the Sexton Blake Library during 1961/2, and went on to edit the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine. He spent 35 years in newspaper and magazine journalism before returning to writing fiction in 1992 and is still writing today, mainly westerns, including the Misfit Lil and Joshua Dillard stories. He is editor of , and in that respect, perhaps I could draw your attention to his articles `Detectives in Cowboy Boots` and `Farewell to a Small Giant` (a tribute to the late Sydney J Bounds which is also useful for casting light on the many pseudonyms used by Mr Bounds)  - both dated  March 2007.

Keith is in good company in choosing the western as his chosen vehicle. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Bret Harte, Stephen Crane and O. Henry all donned their metaphorical stetsons at one time or another. His  Detectives in Cowboy Boots article, mentioned above,  is a fascinating guide to crime fiction writers who have also turned out westerns as a sideline - a surprisingly long list that includes Frank Gruber, John Creasey, John Hunter, Sydney Bounds and T C H Jacobs.

Should you wish to sample some of Mr O`Keefe`s work, then help is at hand ; a free excerpt from Chap O`Keefe`s Doomsday Mesa can be found at For further details of his back catalogue, visit . Hopefully we`ll be able to keep you up to date with his activities as we go along.

That, then, tells us a little of the life and times of Tyrer and O`Keefe. Walter Tyrer`s words are still read today (I`m one of the people that read them), when many of his more exalted peers are almost totally forgotten. Who`s to say that the same won`t happen to Chap O`Keefe ? Time will tell. 

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