Allan Geoffrey Yates
Allan Geoffrey Yates; (1923-1985) wrote under the pseudonyms:
Australian paperback writer Alan G. Yates poured from his typewriter between 1953-68 under the name Carter Brown about 150 crime stories, with sales in the tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of copies. His last books appeared in the early 1980's. All the stories were set in the Unites States, but he never became there so well-known as in Europe. Yates's novels had light atmosphere and his heroes could deliver more wise-guy remarks than Robert B. Parker's famous private detective Spencer.
"Do you go to the movies often, Lieutenant?" she asked politely. "Once," I said, "to get in out of the rain. A thing called Birth of a Nation. I figured it was about sex, but I got gypped." (from The Dame, 1959)
Alan Geoffrey Yates was born in London and educated at schools in Essex. From 1942 to 1946 he served in the Royal Navy as a lieutenant. After the war he worked as a sound recordist at Gaumont-British Films for two years and moved to Australia in 1948. In the same year he became an Australian citizen. Before devoting himself entirely to writing from 1953, Yates was a salesman in Sydney and a public relations staff member at Quatas Empire Airways. His early books were intended only for Australian audience, but when Carter Brown series was picked up by the New American Library, he found readers also in the United States. There his book covers were often illustrated by Barye Phillips and Robert McGinnis. In France Gallimard started to publish Carter Brown's works in 1959 in SÃ©rie Noire (number 477), which also published such writers as James Hadley Chase, Peter Cheyney, Horace McCoy, Jonathan Latimer, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain. In Australia the Brown books were published by Horwitz, one of Sydney's leading paperback houses. - Yates was married with Denise Sinclair Mackellar; they had one daughter and three sons. Yates died on May 5, 1985.
In the beginning Yates wrote crime, horror stories, and westerns under the pen name of Tex Conrad. For the magazine Thrills Incorporated he cowrote around 1950 some tales with G.C. Bleek, but his major work in science fiction was CORIOLANUS, THE CHARIOT! (1978), a story about illusions, paranoia, and a toxic game. Soon Yates started to concentrate on crime fiction, producing a flood of books: in 1953 appeared VENUS UNARMED, THE MERMAID MURMURS MURDER, THE LADY IS CHASED, THE FRAME IS BEAUTIFUL, FRAULEIN IS FELINE, WREATH FOR REBECCA, THE BLACK WIDOW WEEPS, and THE PENTHOUSE PASSOUT. In 1958 he published also a novel under his own name, THE COLD DARK HOURS, and in 1966 appeared the first novels written as Caroline Farr. Like Peter Cheyney and James Hadley Chase, Yates set his stories in the United States, but he had acquited most of his knowledge of America from books and films. However, European readers enjoyed his hard-boiled style and local coloring to the full, without any doubts, and American readers did not pay much attention to his "sometimes tin-eared version of U.S. speech patterns and slang" (Lee Server in Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers, 2002). Sometimes Yates played with the titles of his books, which referred to other works. THE LOVING AND THE DEAD (1959) was a modification of Norman Mailer's The Nakes and the Dead (1948), MURDER IS MY MISTRESS (1954) was not far from Raymond Chandler's Trouble Is My Business (1950), and NO HALO FOR HEDY (1956) echoed James Hadley Chase's No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1939).
The Brown books were fast paced, they had humor and action, and several corpses, although not much violence. Women are gorgeous, and the story is usually set among the rich and glamorous. The plots have turns that are not very believable. In one story a night club is used as a distribution center for drugs. The stripper hides heroin into her G-string and swaps it during her performance for a buyer's tie in which the payoff is sewn into the lining. Yates knew more about literature than his average readers and his specialty was to refer to famous films, novels or works of art. In THE DAME (1959) he quoted John Keats and then twisted the lines in ironic context as the story continued. Up to the 1970s his sex scenes were comparatively mild, but then they started to be more explicit. The change did not please all readers. Last Carter Brown novels appeared in the early 1980s. Usually the novels were ignored by the critics but the mystery writer Anthony Boucher (1911-1968) reviewed them in his columns, which were published in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. One mystery inspired in the 1980s a stage musical called The Stripper, staged by the Sydney Theatre Company.
A typical Carter Brown story did not take itself too seriously - it was a mixture of sex, action, and humor. Yates's female hero was the curvaceous private detective Mavis Seidlitz, whose feminine weapons are more developed than her mental capacities. Mavis works with Johnny Rio, who believes that thinking is his department and do not give her difficult cases. Rio appears on the scene when Mavis is in trouble. In GOOD MORNING, MAVIS (1957?) she travels to New Orleans, where she is kissed several times during Mardi Grass festival and proposed once. Her client is killed and becomes a zombie - or so Mavis believes. She is kidnapped by a monk and a jester and then saved by an undercover detective from the district attorney's office. In THE BUMP AND GRIND MURDERS (1964) Mavis works as a stripper to catch a killer. She plays a bodyguard to a frightened 'exotic dancer' and reveals her knowledge of Russian literature: "... he was just like one of the characters in that book the college boy I dated a few times used to read to me: it was written by some Russian who had enough sense to write it in English so we could read it, and it was called The Brother Caramba's Off! I guess if he could write it in English, I couldn't object to him using Spanish in the title." Other Mavis stories include HONEY, HERE'S YOUR HEARSE (1955), A BULLET FOR MY BABY (1955), and LAMENT FOR A LOUSY LOVER (1960). Yates's best known hero was Al Wheeler, a homicide lieutenant from the fictional Pine Country, California. Wheeler made his first appearance in THE WENCH IS WICKED (1955). In WALK SOFTLY, WITCH (1959) Wheeler investigates an insurance fraud, meets voluptuous secretaries and widows, and takes more than a few drinks before he shoots the criminal who has just shot his deceitful female accomplice. Larry Baker, a Hollywood screenwriter, and his drunk partner Boris Slivka, solved crackpot crimes. Rick Holmas was a Hollywood PI, and Randy Roberts a San Francisco lawyer.
As Allan Yates
The Cold Dark Hours 1958