Archive for the ‘william ard’ Category

A Visit with Mike Nevins

April 23, 2011

Mike Nevins, who writes as Francis M. Nevins, visited me this week.  After a great Chinese dinner which my wife, Linda, prepared, Mike and I spent the evening talking about hard-boiled authors.  Mike, who’s been writing about authors — as well as his own novels and short stories — for more than 40 years, is fascinating to listen to. 

The next morning I took him on a tour of Elmira where Frederic Dannay (Ellery Queen) spent part of his childhood.  Here’s Mike at the Chemung River which Dannay referred to in his writing.

As Mike pointed out when we parted, we were brought together “by the ghost of William Ard.  I’ve used several of Mike’s Armchair Detective articles in my research and will soon be posting his bibliography of Ard.

Mike discovered this site in the fall of 2010 and emailed me on Thanksgiving morning.  Mike was responsible for getting Ard back in print via Fender Tucker of Ramble House Press


Ard Titles to be Reprinted

January 11, 2011

Several William Ard titles may be reprinted in 2011.
I received a note today from scholar Francis M. Nevins that said in part: “My chance encounter with your website last Thanksgiving has borne fruit. Ramble House, a small publisher . . . will be putting out William Ard novels in the old Ace Doubles format. Two to a volume.” He said he thinks the volumes may appear in the next few months.

This will be the first time William Ard has been in print since his death in 1960.

My sincere thanks to Mr. Nevins, not only for helping make Ard available to the general public again, but for his decades of work in the hard boiled and mystery fields.

A Note from Nevins

December 26, 2010

I was browsing my gmail Thanksgiving and opened a comment on this site. I went through the quick phases of confusion, recognition and delight to realize it was a note from Francis M. Nevins, who I consider one of, if not the preeminent scholar of the noir  and hard boiled fields.
Mike’s articles in  Armchair Detective were a treasure trove of information for me about Ard and others of his time.   We’ ve been corresponding since and hopefully will get together when he travels up my way.

Mike is a prolific writer of nonfiction and author of detective fiction.
His latest book is Cornucopia of Crime. Check it out. If you love hardboiled and noir fiction, Mike Nevins’ work is essential.

Eileen Hendrick Passes Away

November 3, 2008

It is with great sadness that I report that Eileen Hendrick passed away October 22, 2008.  Her daughter, Eileen Heishman, was thoughtful enough to email me and give me the news.

Mrs. Hendrick was a wonderful person, full of life, humor and faith.  It was a joy working with her on this site, and sharing her excitement with each photo or document or news and corrections that she sent me.  I’ll cherish our phone conversations and our email exchanges.

A memorial service was held for Mrs. Hendrick Saturday, Nov. 1 in the Faith Methodist Church in Largo, Florida.  As her daughter Eileen rightly pointed out, Saturday was All Saints Day.

My deepest sympathies to Eileen Heishman on her loss, and my eternal gratitude to Mrs. Hendrick for her contributions to this site keeping alive the work of a great writer.

College Transcript; Alumni Form

April 24, 2008

According to William Ard’s Dartmouth transcript, he was born on July 18, 1922. His full name was William Thomas Ard. He listed his father as Robert E. Ard and his mother as Rose Frances Doran. His father worked at Marine Insurance.

In high school Ard took three years of Latin and two years of French.

At Dartmouth, his grades look pretty much like a lot of aspiring writers.

He generally earned A’s and B’s in his major, English, with the exception of his last semester when he took four English classes and earned one A, one C and two D’s. He did earn a B in Public Speaking. He was not strong in the sciences.

His comprehensive exam culminated in a C and his final “standing” or cumulative point average was 2.2. His position in the class was 292 out of 490.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in June, 1944.

He listed his nickname as “Bill,” though, according to alumni contributions he was also known as “Willie.”

On July 31, 1945 he married Eileen Kovara. Their son, William was born on November 1, 1950, followed by daughter Eileen on July 8, 1947.

When he filled out the Alumni questionnaire the family was living at 420 Druid Road, Clearwater, Florida.

When he filled out the information for the Dartmouth Alumni Directory in 1956, he listed his occupation as “author,” which began in 1950.

He listed his previous occupations as :

Copywriter, Buchanan & Co. Advertising, 1944-1947

Copychief, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1947-1950

He was a Republican and was a member of Sigma Chi, Dragon, Pelican Golf Club, and Carlouel Yacht Club.

On his form he wrote that he served in the Marine Corps from 1942-1944 as Private First Class. This needs to be checked out since he was a college student during these years.

He listed four persons (including one classmate) who would always know his address as:

John A. Corroon, ‘44

Ken A. Hamlin

George W. Sanders

James Oliver Brown.

The list is interesting in that he later used Ken Hamlin as one of his pen names.

Here’s a copy of Books published exactly as Ard listed them on October 15, 1955 for the 1956 Dartmouth Alumni Directory.





The Perfect Frame

Own name

William Morrow


The Diary

Rinehart & Co.



Rinehart & Co.


A Private Party

Rinehart & Co.



Ben Kerr

Henry Holt


Don’t Come Crying to Me

Own name



Mr. Trouble

Own name




Mike Moran

Popular Library


No Angels for Me

Own name

Popular Library


You’ll Get Yours

Thomas Wills

Lion Books

1952 & 1955

Hell is a City

Own name



Down I Go

Ben Kerr

Popular Library


Mine to Avenge

Thomas Wills

Gold Medal Books


I Fear You Not

Ben Kerr

Popular Library


Damned If He Does

Ben Kerr

Popular Library


A Girl for Danny

Own name

Popular Library


It’s interesting to note that Ard, an avid golfer, ghosted a book for Johnny Farrell entitled If I Were In Your Shoes, published in 1950 by Henry Holt. The book is available through rare book dealers on ebay.

He had two short stories published in 1953 and a television play presented on Fireside Theatre in 1955.

The World of William Ard

March 5, 2008

“The World of William Ard, written by Francis M. Nevins Jr., appeared in The Armchair Detective, Volume 15, #2. It’s an extensive work that surveys all of Ard’s work. It’s not only a good introduction to Ard but a timeless reference point.


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Guns of Revenge

March 1, 2008

I don’t know if it’s rare or not but after months of searching, I finally found Guns of Revenge which Ard wrote under the Ken Hamlin pseudonym. No one I’ve talked to in the book business had heard of it. I found it buried on a dealer’s story on eBay. It arrived today.



It’s a Monarch 555, published in 1965 but copyrighted in 1960. I’m guessing this was the last book Ard finished before he died. The publisher or agent apparently held onto it for a few years.

Ard dedicated the book to “C.C. Wintermute, of the West”.

There is also a two paragraph author’s profile which reads:

“Ken Hamlin is the pseudonym of a well known writer of hard cover and paperback books. A graduate of Dartmouth, he saw extensive service with the Marines during World War II.

“After the war he worked as an investigator for a detective agency, then spent three years as a copywriter with an advertising agency before joining the advertising department of Warner Brothers. Subsequently he left Warners to become a full-time writer.”

The time as an investigator is questionable. In an alumni information form, Ard does not mention it and it is not listed in any of the obituaries.

For Hamlin page:

The pseudonym is actually the name of a close friend of the Ards at the time. He has since passed away. For Eileen Hendrick’s recollection, click here.

Other Names, Same World

March 1, 2008

  This article appeared in The Armchair Detective, Volume 16, Winter 1983, Number 4. This is the second article by Francis M. Nevins Jr., who did an extraordinary service in his research and articles on William Ard.


Chapter 9: Buchanan, Part 3

February 3, 2008


Apparently feeling more confident with the success of the three Buchanan books, Ard decided to have fun with the fourth installment, Buchanan Gets Mad. A limping horse sets him in the California town of Salvation in which the preacher and sheriff are the same man, Sidney Hallett. Word play abounds in this novel where the streets of Salvation are Genesis and Sinai.

The town is empty and Buchanan stands in the middle of Salvation, wondering: “Where the hell is everybody?”

He hears a voice yelling at a woman: “You are hereby banished from Salvation!” While the puns become a bit overwhelming, it turns out that Hallett does fancy himself god of this town which he created. He now directs “people’s very existence.” In fact by the end of the book we see that Ard has created a demented precursor of Jimmy Jones and David Koresh.

While Hallett is probably a pun on “Hell,” the sheriff’s deputy is Hynman, which is an inverted “Hymn-man”

Buchanan winds up on the wrong side of the establishment and takes a bullet in the ribs. In the course of trying to save heroine Ellen Booth and Juanita, a Mexican girl, he gets beat up and finally thrown in jail to await hanging on a trumped up charge. He maintains his easy going persona throughout.

By now, Ard has begun to add dimension to the affable hero. We get a look at the dark side of Buchanan when Hynman comes into the jail to rape Ellen who is in the next cell. Buchanan grabs the deputy by the throat and begins choking him to death with the matter-of-fact philosophy, “He knows he’s got this coming.” He has no more feeling for killing a man than shooting a rattlesnake. It’s only a woman’s pleas that stop him.

Unlike Dane and Largo, Buchanan is fairly pure. At the ranch of the main female character, he finds a woods and spring and bathes. He later falls asleep and is awakened by two women bathing nude. Ever the gentleman, Buchanan stays hidden so they won’t be embarrassed. What could have been an implied sex scene instead is one of innocence in a little Eden outside the corrupt Salvation.


While Buchanan does kill a couple bad guys, it’s the villains in the end who wipe out each other, self-cleaning Salvation.

Buchanan’s Revenge, is, as the title implies, a revenge novel. Buchanan searches out a friend who has just been released from jail, rehabilitates him and they begin a shipping business to Mexico. An errant trio from a marauding band shoots the man in the back, killing him and robs the shipment.

This is one of the more uneven books. Buchanan kills two of the men and faces down the entire gang for the third. After he kills the man, he joins the gang as they run contraband into and out of Mexico, holding off the Mexican army.

The book has its charm, though. Buchanan’s duality: the friendly, easy-going cowboy and the deadly, persistent, fearless killer is explored further. And Big Red, a hastily drawn but colorful character, virtually roars off the page and steals the show, especially during the fist fight between the two giants.

Garfield and Silverberg added excellent touches as they filled out Buchanan. In subsequent adventures, he acquires his horse, Nightshade. No horse is as smart or as loyal as Nightshade. He often mentions Luke Short, a gambler and gunfighter who taught him how to play poker. (Silverberg was fascinated with Short and in 1961 had done a study of Short: Luke Short And His Era, published by Doubleday).

At one point he picks up a black friend. Buchanan, throughout all the novels, appreciates those of other cultures as real people and not stereotypes.

Ard and the subsequent authors, stayed with the simple plot premise, as Buchanan says in Buchanan Gets Mad: “I keep starting out for ‘Frisco but somethin’ keeps happening,” The series ended in 1986 with Buchanan’s Stage Line.


Chapter 8: Buchanan Part 2

February 2, 2008


As mentioned in the previous post, Buchanan is the affable but deadly loner, moving across the West through pockets of trouble.

The wandering helper of the underdog is a theme so common it long ago passed from stereotype to a main figure in the collective unconscious.

But one characteristic makes Buchanan unique in western heroes. He laughs. This was the genius of Ard’s creation. Up until Buchanan, most western heroes were serious, tight-lipped guys who say little and despite their humility, seem full of themselves.

Buchanan is also a nice man. He minds his own business, isn’t overly ambitious in the usual sense and is the kind of guy who, though he’s six feet six inches, wouldn’t be an imposition if he stayed with you. You like him. You’d feel comfortable sipping a coffee or a whiskey with him.

You so identify with the guy that it’s upsetting when someone comes along and makes this good-humored fellow mad and forces him to shed his gentle air and become reluctantly violent and often deadly.

The guy loves children, treats women with great respect and hates to harm anything, but anyone who makes him really mad usually gets killed.

While Dane skips about at the outside fringes of the law, he still moves securely within his social environment. Buchanan remains outside of society. As in other westerns, we are reminded that “civilization” is in the East. Society in the West lives in the little towns that have sprung up in the westward post Civil War surge. Between them a man travels alone in an existential wilderness where there is no good and evil, only life and death. The hero finds evil in the pockets of society.

Where Dane’s and Largo’s wisecracks have an angry, defiant edge, always taunting the adversary (law or criminal), Buchanan might be flippant but it’s a flippancy from a man secure with himself, a man who knows who he is, has simple but well-defined set of values and wants simply what is right and just.

Buchanan was so real and so popular that he took on an existence of his own, living on after his creator. More Buchanan books were written after Ard’s death than by the creator himself.

Ard fully completed five of the Buchanan novels. The sixth one, Buchanan On The Prod, was his except for last chapter.

Mrs. Hendrick recalls that, Bob Silverberg completed Buchanan On The Prod. Brian Garfield wrote the seventh Buchanan novel, Buchanan’s Gun and William R. Cox wrote rest of the books in the series, Mrs. Hendrick said. The series ended when Cox “started a series of his own and didn’t have time to do any more Buchanan books” Mrs. Hendrick recalls.

Ambling through the wide open West, the pace of the narration, superficially slows. It’s easy to miss the fact that Ard does keep the action moving through his minimalist character sketches and shaved down dialogue. And unlike Dane and Largo, Buchanan does have a past. We find out in Buchanan Gets Mad that the drifter was born and raised on a ranch and his father was killed by bank robbers.


In his 1956 debut, The Name’s Buchanan, the 30-year-old loner is returning from Mexico where he’s spent two years as a mercenary in Mexican revolution. He comes across a beautiful young girl, naked and nearly dead. Maria Del Cuervo has been raped, bashed in the head and left for dead. He takes her back to her to the home of her wealthy Mexican family.

The book is very sympathetic to the Mexican culture. Juan, Maria’s brother, rides to Agrytown to avenge her. Agrytown is owned and run by the Agry brothers. (The name is a pretty obvious play on “angry”). He kills the rapist, the wayward son of one of the town leaders.

Buchanan, who becomes embroiled in the problems, winds up fighting off a lynch mob and killing the sheriff.

As guest of honor at the Del Cuervo home, he fends off the romantic advances of Maria and gives in to the more primitive, lusty advances of an Indian servant.

Ard in fact was fully aware of the duality of the romantic and realistic hero. Maria sees him as a knight. The Indian girl sees a man. Ard neatly slices right down the middle of the two extremes in a speech Buchanan makes to those trying to honor him:

“. . . the truth is, as I know Tom Buchanan, he’s not quite so worthless as Lew Agry painted him . . .and not nearly the man the Del Cuervo family would like to imagine. Buchanan is a bum. He’s a restless, rootless drifter who knows a little bit about everybody else’s business but not one damn thing about his own.”


While Buchanan Says No, published in 1957, is one of the best of the series, it is also the sketchiest. Buchanan is a drifter who is drugged and shanghaied to a cattle drive. When he’s denied his earnings, he goes into the town of Bella to collect. Here he encounters (of course) the evil forces of the bad guys and the temptations (of course) of beautiful women.

No threats, beatings or jail can stop this large, easy striding man from pursuing the men who owe him. In the course of this pursuit he becomes a hero in the town controlled by one man and starts a rebellion.

There is not a bad bone in Buchanan’s body, no dark side. He’s just a cowpoke who wants what’s fair. In the end it turns out that he’s also a very skilled gunfighter. The revealing scene is played so subtly that it seems natural. And whether Ard planned it that way, it opened the way for more Buchanan adventures.

His third adventure, One Man Massacre, appeared a year later in 1958.

Massacre opens in 1857 with Buchanan with an old miner, Fargo Johns. The bitchy, sarcastic Odd Couple interplay between these two characters is both realistic and humorous. Buchanan has been tricked into mining with Fargo.

The plot takes shape when Buchanan, who has nothing, walks from the mountain to Scotsdale where, during a poker game, he’s pulled into a showdown. He kills the man with a borrowed gun.

In fact at this point, Ard amplifies Buchanan’s alienation, underscoring the man’s fate to never be part of society:

“The men’s voices sounded all around Buchanan’s head like so many droning flies, and held about as much interest to him. He was not geared for town life, had no feeling for it, and as he stood here now looking down into a half-empty whiskey glass the big man was asking himself unhappily just what the hell kind of living he was meant for. From the top of the mountains the lights down here had looked warm and inviting, promising a night of companionship with other men….but when Fargo asked him what kind of good time did he have all he could answer was that he had killed a man he’d never even seen before.”

We find the man is part of a gang, imported by leading town light Malcolm Lord to rid the area of squatters under the pretense of killing hostile Mexicans.

Eight gang members attack Buchanan. He returns, wounded, to the safety of the mountain. While he recuperates, the gang lynches innocent Mexicans and sets up an elaborate frame.

Barely healed, Buchanan goes into town and all hell breaks loose.

While heroes have faced huge odds, it’s the way Buchanan goes into the fight that puts him ahead of his time. Read this passage and see if you aren’t reminded of Rambo or Schwarzenegger:

“Buchanan hit him on the point of the jaw and the man went down soundlessly. Two others were attracted by the brief encounter and bore down on him, diagonally. Buchanan bent over the fallen man and very deliberately lifted the .45. The gun in his hand began swinging in a slow arc, exploding six times with a kind of staccato rhythm until it was empty. He tossed it away from him, negligently, took another from the limp fingers of his nearest victim and started walking down the middle of Trail Street. Twenty-one times he was fired at, six times he answered, and when there was nothing left in that gun he borrowed a third.” He goes on to kick in the door of a building and shoot two more men.

The story works on two levels. It’s pure, fast-paced adventure. It also follows the literary formulas of the hero. We have the hero on the mountain, pure, innocent, coming into the din of society, here represented by Scotsdale. The town had been good until Malcolm Lord (you get the play on names by now) imports evil in the form of the gang out of his own greed for more land.

The hero is wounded – a symbolic death –and goes into hiding, to heal or be “reborn.” While he is gone, the evil grows and chaos increases. He returns, eliminates evil and restores order.

Buchanan in this book is not so easy going and friendly.