The Critics

The eminent New York Times critic Anthony Boucher touted Ard from his first appearance in hard cover and followed his career throughout Ard’s decade of writing. The following are the reviews from Boucher’s New York Times column “Criminals at Large.”


June 23, 1955

The criminal elements in William Ard’s MR. TROUBLE (Rinehart, $2.75) are more familiar –gambling, insurance fraud, small-town politics, murder for hire; but Ard, who is getting even better all the time, accomplishes wonders with them. This book’s unusually short but extraordinary technical skill enables the author to offer complexity of plot and counterplot, color of setting (west coast of Florida) and credible depth of character superior to many novels twice as long. Timothy Dane is again the detective; and the Ard-Dane combination is coming to denote a pure individual magic in hard-boiled story-telling.

June 26, 1955

HELL IS A CITY (Rinehart, $2.75) falls a little short of William Ard’s best, largely because it reaches too far. In an attempt to create the ultimate tough novel of municipal corruption, Ard has made his villains almost unbelievably villainous – and unpardonably stupid, so that virtue triumphs less by its own efforts than through the clumsiness of evil. But Timothy Dane is still one of the best private detectives in the business, and his creator is just about unmatched for driving story-movement and acute economy.

July 10, 1955

Boucher apparently didn’t know of Ard’s pseudonym and in this less-than-favorable review gives Ard a back-handed compliment.

Thomas Wills’ MINE TO AVENGE (Gold Medal, 25 cents), is about a vice squad detective who masquerades as a rogue cop to smash a criminal ring and encounters in the process just about every cliché and corny improbability you choose to name. But the telling is fast, readable and economic enough to sound like William Ard in an off moment.

September 2, 1956

Certain mystery tricks defy a reviewer’s analysis: the above mentioned [Cornell] Woolrich spell, for instance, or Agatha Christie’s instantaneous characterizations or William Ard’s ability to tell a story fully in a good 20,000 words

The latest of Ard’s miracles of economy is CRY SCANDAL (Rinehard, $2.75), in which ever-likable detective Timothy Dane tangles with the Broadway theatre and the filth-mongering “inside information” magazines. Dane has been brighter (it isn’t his fault this isn’t his last case), but story and telling are lively, fast and vigorous.

April 21, 1957

CLUB 17 (Popular, 25 cents) is the best yet of William Ard’s novels under the “Ben Kerr” pseudonym, no nowhere near up to his orthonymous books. People and motives largely incredible, but fast, economic narration of a new variant in high quality call girl rackets.

August 4, 1957

William Ard’s THE ROOT OF HIS EVIL (Rinehart, $2.95) is of course marked by violence, sex and action galore (gal + gore), as Timothy Dane undertakes to deliver $100,000 in cash to a Florida gambling boss and walks spang into the agents of a Latin-American revolution. More lightweight than Ard’s best, but with all his vigor, pace and economy . . . and with even more atrocious pidgin “Spanish” than most Yanqui books.

Even reviewing someone else’s book, Boucher would occasionally give Ard a plug.

Ovid-Demaris’ RIDE THE GOLD MARE(Gold Medal, 25 cents) is about dope running in Southern California, complete with rogue cop, drunken reporter-detective and Syndicate muscle men, but effective for all its familiarity; urgent tempo, intricate counterplotting and startling economy recalling William Ard’s writing at his best.

March 8, 1959



In AS BAD AS I AM (Rinehart, $2.95) William Ard temporarily abandons the casebook of Timothy Dan to tell of the woes of Mike Fontaine, who is a sucker for helpless women – so much so that he receives a parole from prison only on condition that he stay away from women for eighteen months. This is even harder for him than it would be for you or me, who do not often have enchanting young actresses fall in love with us at first sight. But soon parole violation is the least of Mike’s worries, as the entire New York Police Department seems conspiring to frame him for murder. This entire enterprise, improbabilities and all, is tight-plotted, fast and wonderfully blithe and youthful – a sort of criminous “Voice of the Turtle,” which should make the fortune of any film producer content the leave the story unaltered.

May 15, 1960


WHEN SHE WAS BAD (Dell, 35 cents) is about novice detective Danny Fontaine – who was Mike Fontaine in the very likeable “As Bad As I Am” (1959). Under any name, Fontaine is a young man of good will, great personal attraction (which raises problems for the newly married monogamist)



June 4, 1955

This is from the Books-Authors article in the June 4, 1955 issue of The New York Times.

New York City, the subject of an anthology to be published this month, is also th background for two novels to be issued in a short time. One novel is William Ard’s “Hell Is A City” (Rinehart, June 13), which deals with politics and “honest and dishonest” cops during an election year.


From the “Books Published Today” in the March 6, 1952 issue of The New York Times.

The Diary, by William Ard (Rinehart, $2.50). A detective story.


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