Michael Collins is the pseudonym under which Dennis Lynds wrote a hard-boiled detective series and juvenile mysteries, among other works. Lynds used various other pen names to write many other mysteries and novels. The novels of the Dan Fortune series are probably Collins’s most original works. The narrator-protagonist of these novels is often compared to the hard-boiled detectives of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. However, although Dan Fortune is a maverick, he lacks the violent, brutal approach to his work characteristic of the hard-boiled detective. Essentially nonaggressive, even passive at times, he is marked by his compassion and vulnerability. Fortune is a more rounded and credible character than most detectives in this genre.
Strongly competing with the protagonist for primary importance in the early Fortune novels is the setting, the Chelsea district on New York’s East Side. Collins gave the reader a realistic view of this area, its residents, and the conditions there, which contribute to the many crimes. The result is a sociological study of and commentary on the living conditions that shape the characters, who engage in violence and commit crimes. So pervasive is the sociological emphasis that critics have termed his later novels sociodramas. Collins moved Fortune from Chelsea to Santa Barbara in his fourteenth novel, but his protagonist’s character remained the same, and the California landscape played an...
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