Ross Thomas (author)

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Ross Thomas (February 19, 1926 in Oklahoma City – December 18, 1995 in Santa Monica, California) was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics. He also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck about professional go-between Philip St. Ives.

Thomas served with the infantry in the Philippines during World War II.[1] He worked as a public relations specialist, correspondent with the Armed Forces Network,[1] union spokesman, and political strategist in the USA, Bonn (Germany), and Nigeria before becoming a writer.[2]

His debut novel, The Cold War Swap, was written in only six weeks and won a 1967 Edgar Award[3] for Best First Novel. Briarpatch earned the 1985 Edgar for Best Novel.[2] In 2002 he was honored with the inaugural Gumshoe Lifetime Achievement Award, one of only two authors to earn the award posthumously (the other was 87th Precinct author Ed McBain in 2006).

In addition to his novels, Mr. Thomas also wrote an original screenplay for producer Robert Evans entitled Jimmy the Rumour.[4] The project is the story of a man born without an identity who works as a thief stealing from other thieves.

He died of lung cancer in Santa Monica, California two months before his 70th birthday.[2]


  • The Cold War Swap (1966)
  • Cast a Yellow Shadow (1967)
  • The Seersucker Whipsaw (1967)
  • Singapore Wink (1969)
  • The Fools in Town are on Our Side (1970)
  • The Backup Men (1971)
  • The Porkchoppers (1972)
  • If You Can't Be Good (1973)
  • The Money Harvest (1975)
  • Yellow Dog Contract (1976)
  • Chinaman's Chance (1978)
  • The Eighth Dwarf (1979)
  • The Mordida Man (1981)
  • Missionary Stew (1983)
  • Briarpatch (1984)
  • Out On The Rim (1987)
  • The Fourth Durango (1989)
  • Twilight at Mac's Place (1990)
  • Voodoo, Ltd (1992)
  • Ah, Treachery! (1994)

As Oliver Bleeck[edit]

  • The Brass Go-Between (1969)
  • Protocol for a Kidnapping (1971)
  • The Procane Chronicle (1971) – basis for the 1976 Charles Bronson movie St. Ives.
  • The Highbinders (1973)
  • No Questions Asked (1976)


  • Warriors for the Poor: The Story of VISTA, Volunteers In Service to America (with William H. Crook, 1969)
  • Spies, Thumbsuckers, Etc. (1989)

Recurring characters[edit]

Aside from Philip St. Ives, the following characters appear in more than one novel:

  • Cyril "Mac" McCorkle, former Army special-operations officer in WW2 Burma and now pub owner in Bonn and Washington, DC, and his polyglot business partner/friend Michael Padillo, spy/executioner for an unnamed government agency, are in The Cold War Swap, Cast a Yellow Shadow, The Backup Men, and Twilight at Mac's Place. Padillo appears briefly in The Seersucker Whipsaw, tending bar as "Mike."
  • Artie Wu and Quincy Durant, con men/adventurers, and their associate Maurice "Otherguy" Overby are in Chinaman's Chance, Out on the Rim, Voodoo, Ltd. Booth Stallings, expert on terrorism, and Georgia Blue, cashiered Secret Service agent, join them in the latter two.
  • Howard Mott, a Washington lawyer, has cameo roles or is mentioned in several novels.
  • Ione Gamble, an actress, is a central character in "Voodoo, Ltd." and is mentioned in Ah, Treachery!.
  • Draper Haere, political rainmaker, is a central character in Missionary Stew and is mentioned in Ah, Treachery.
  • Minor Jackson and Nicolae Ploscaru, central characters in The Eighth Dwarf, are mentioned in Ah, Treachery.
  • Chubb Dunjee is the protagonist of The Mordida Man and is mentioned in Voodoo, Ltd.
  • "Boy" Howdy is mentioned in two of the Wu/Durant books, one of them Out On The Rim, but might be two different characters.


  1. ^ a b Sara Paretsky (preface) in Ross Thomas (2003) [1989]. The Fourth Durango. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0312315856.
  2. ^ a b c Myrna Oliver (19 December 1995). "Ross Thomas; Award-Winning Mystery Writer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  3. ^ William Heffernan (preface) in Ross Thomas (2005) [1978]. Chinaman's Chance. New York: Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-33414-1.
  4. ^ Wallace, Amy (1998-01-04). "Robert Evans' Latest Remake". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-10-02.

External links[edit]