Quoting from the online edition of the Fresno Bee:

Albert Isaac “Buzz” Bezzerides, born in Ottoman Turkey to an Armenian mother and Greek father, grew up in Fresno in the same era as author William Saroyan. […] Mr. Bezzerides, who moved to Southern California as an adult, fell and suffered a broken hip late last year. He died New Year’s Day in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 98.

Here is his entry in Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin:

BEZZERIDES, A(lbert) I(saac) (1908- )

* * *Long Haul (Carrick, 1938, hc) Cape, 1938. Also published as: They Drive by Night. Dell, 1950 and Tough Guy. Lion, 1953. Film: Warner Bros., 1940, as They Drive by Night; released in Britain as The Road to Frisco (scw: Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay; dir: Raoul Walsh).
* * _They Drive by Night (Dell, 1950, pb) See: Long Haul (Carrick 1938).
* * *Thieves Market (Scribner, 1949, hc) [San Francisco, CA] University of California (U.K.) pb, 1997. Film: TCF, 1949, as Thieves’ Highway (scw: A. I. Bezzerides; dir: Jules Dassin).
* * _Tough Guy (Lion, 1953, pb) See: Long Haul (Carrick 1938).

Dell pb

Only two books, but influential ones. “Like Saroyan,” the obituary in the Bee goes on to say, “Mr. Bezzerides wrote novels influenced by his life in the San Joaquin Valley during the early part of the last century.” Due to what novelist Anthony Neil Smith on his blog Crimedog One calls their inherent “trucker noir” quality, their impact on the world of cinema has been even greater.

Among the other credits you can find for him at www.imdb.com is
Kiss Me Deadly , a 1955 masterpiece of film noir starring Ralph Meeker as Mickey Spillane’s favorite PI, Mike Hammer, filmed in (as they say) glorious black-and-white. Mr. Bezzerides wrote the screenplay.

First line:   Mike Hammer: You almost wrecked my car! Well? Get in!


In another genre, Mr. Bezzerides was also the creator of The Big Valley, the Barbara Stanwyck TV western series that ran for 112 episodes between 1965 and 1969. His roots in the San Joaquin Valley, where the Barkley ranch was located, had a good deal to do with that success of that series as well.

[Thanks to Vince Keenan on his blog for the original tip on Mr. Bezzerides’ passing.]