JAMES REASONER “War Games.” Novelette. Markham #5. First published in Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1982. Kindle reprint, 2013.

   The lead story in the same issue of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine was a Mike Shayne novelette by Brett Halliday entitled “Deadly Queen,” which is of note especially because it just so happens that was ghostwritten by the same James Reasoner who wrote “War Games.” Between the two stories almost half of the magazine was work by James, one of a very few authors producing the same wordage today of the most prolific pulp writers of the 1920s and 30s. Over a million words a year? That’s a lot of typing!

   “War Games” the last of five stories he wrote about a PI by the name of Markham (not related to the TV detective of the same name). In it he’s called in by the head of a military academy for teenaged boys to find out who left him a threatening note in his desk in his office.

   There are a number of suspects. Colonel Rutledge is the sort of hard-nosed former military officer who runs a tight ship, to say the least. The most obvious suspects are a couple of boys, one of whom he expelled, the other a boy from own he is friends with, and an English instructor who was dressed down publicly for using the book Catch 22 in class.

   The colonel does not mention his granddaughter, who lives on the grounds, but Markham quickly adds her to his own list, as not surprisingly, she is, shall we say, the rebellious type. The story proceeds from here, and it’s a good one.

   The story is too short to learn much about Markham as a person, except that he’s the kind of person who, when he accepts a job, makes sure he finishes it. I was reminded more of Philip Marlowe than I was Sam Spade, say, if you’d like a couple of other PI’s to to compare him to. Even so, more than Marlowe, Markham is a guy I’d like to sit down and have a beer someday, if ever I could.

   And this is the kind of story that makes you wish there were more than just the five. The good news is that three of them are already available as Kindle ebooks, as indicated by a (*) below. What I’d really like to see, though, is a print collection of all five. Back issues of Mike Shayne magazines have become awfully hard to find in the wild, and that issue of Skullduggery? Impossible.

       The Markham series —

All the Way Home. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1979
Death and the Dancing Shadows. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine March 1980 (*)


The Man in the Moon. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1980 (*)
The Double Edge. Skullduggery, Summer 1981
War Games. Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, April 1982 (*)