Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Davis Dresser  

Pen Name: Brett Halliday, Asa Baker, Matthew Blood, Kathryn Culver, Don Davis, Hal Debrett, Anthony Scott, Peter Field, and Anderson Wayne

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction Mystery

Born: July 31, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Halliday was born in Chicago, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

Dresser was best known for his long-lived series of Mike Shayne novels written under the pen name of Brett Halliday but in 1958 he ceased publishing novels under the pen name. Ghost writers penned the Brett Halliday books after that. The Shayne series went on to be highly successful and twelve motion pictures were made, seven of them featuring Lloyd Nolan as Shayne. Five of the Nolan films, which were produced by 20th Century Fox, have been released on DVD: ''Michael Shayne, Private Detective''; ''Sleepers West''; ''Dressed to Kill''; ''Blue, White and Perfect''; and ''The Man Who Wouldn't Die''. After the Fox series ended, five more Shayne films were made by PRC which featured Hugh Beaumont as the detective. There was also a TV series in 1960, starring Richard Denning. The 2005 film ''Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'' is based partly on Halliday's novel ''Bodies Are Where You Find Them''. Dresser also wrote non-series mysteries, westerns and romances under the pen names Asa Baker, Kathryn Culver, Don Davis, Anthony Scott, Peter Field and Anderson Wayne. He wrote under the joint pen names of Hal Debrett with his wife Kathleen Rollins and Matthew Blood with Ryerson Johnson. He edited several books including: ''Big Time Mysteries'', ''Murder in Miami'', ''Best Detective Stories of the Year, 16th and 17th Annual Collections'', Dutton, 2 vols. With his wife Helen McCloy, Dresser also edited: ''20 Great Tales of Murder'' and ''Murder, Murder, Murder: 10 Tales from 20 Great Tales of Murder''. A founding member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dresser was presented with an Edgar Award for Outstanding Mystery Criticism in 1954. He lived in Santa Barbara, California, until his death at the age of 72.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- Edgar Award for Outstanding Mystery Criticism, 1954