Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stuart M Kaminsky, RIP

It has just come to my attention that mystery writer Stuart M. Kaminsky passed away today at age 75.

I was a huge fan of his "Toby Peters" mysteries, the tongue-in-cheek adventures, set in the 1940s, of a schlubby Hollywood private eye whose cases always involved big-name cinema celebrities. From the first, Bullet For A Star (which involved the P.I. with Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart), I enjoyed the series both for its eccentric cast of recurring characters and its author's obvious love for Hollywood's Golden Age. My favorites include Never Cross A Vampire with Bela Lugosi, Buried Caesars with Dashiell Hammett, and You Bet Your Life, in which Peters must help out the Marx Brothers. All of them are fun, though.

I also enjoyed and collected his "Lew Fonesca" series (even if they were often depressing), and his two Rockford Files original novels. He was a film historian (his book on John Huston has been on my shelf for decades) and even worked on movies like Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time In America.

I met Kaminsky briefly about a decade ago at the Private Eye Writers of America convention in St. Louis. At the time, he'd stopped writing the Peters novels, and assured me that he was finished with the series. Fortunately, it turned out that he was wrong, and a few years later, another book in the series hit the shelves and was followed by several more.

I really enjoyed his work. The Peters books were among those that really got me into private eye fiction in my early 20s, and remain among my favorites. It saddens me that there won't be any more.

Rest in peace, Mister Kaminsky.


Craig Zablo said...

Although I knew his name, I've never read any of his books. Your tribute makes me want to change that. Thanks for turning me on to an author I might have otherwise missed.

Bill Spangler said...

What a shame. I read and enjoyed at least a couple of the Toby Peters books. And, if memory serves, he wrote one of the first Kolchak comics for Moonstone.

Anonymous said...

He did indeed write the very enjoyable "Fever Pitch" Kolchak graphic novel.