Russell Teed

Created by David Montrose
Pseudonym of Charles Ross Graham)
(1920-68)

 

A Montreal eye!

RUSSELL TEED, “Montreal’s version of the tough private eye” appeared in three n

ovels set in my hometown back in the early fifties.

And Bob and Doug would be proud of this particular hoser. Dow? Molson? Labatt? The pages of these three paperbacks are practically soaked in it.

Tremendous amounts of beer are swigged throughout the series by both Russ and his best pal and one-time co-worker, MacArnold, a “by-line bum” working for The Montreal Clarion, the town’s English-language morning paper. Hell, in one scene, they work through Teed’s beer supply with the help of (on-duty) Montreal homicide dick Raoul Frambroise.

Teed went to McGill, worked for a while as a reporter, and then toddled off to WWII to fight for King and Country, where he saw more than enough of what men can do to other men. Upon his return, he became, as MacArnold explains, “A private operative. Very big time. All sorts of contracts. Does mostly company work. Not the cases where the bookkeeper skips with a thousand iron men, the cases where the chairman of the board thinks the secretary-treasurer has been cooking the company balance sheet to buy himself a small republic in South America.”

It evidently pays well — Teed may not be rich, but he has a swinging little bachelor flat on Côte des Neiges, right near Westmount Boulevard, and he tools around town in a spiffy little Riley roadster (which he annoyingly calls Riley).

Despite his corporate work, however, Russ somehow manages to get involved in some pretty bloody business. They may not have the most logical of solutions, and coincidence seems to be his chief strategy, while the violence may be overblown and the racist and sexist attitudes hopelessly outdated, but who cares? This is my hometown, and no book written about Montreal could ever please all the solitudes, never mind the big two. It’s certainly no worse — and often a hell of a lot better — than a lot of generic stuff of that period. And the local colour seem just about perfect. This truly is pulp fiction chez nous. As vivid as Chandler’s Los Angeles, as Montreal as a quart of Molson.

So perfect, in fact, that Montreal’s own Véhicule Press, a prestigious literary publisher, began reprinting the Teed books under its own Ricochet pulp imprint in 2010, and even asked me to do the intro for one of them.

Beauty, eh?

TABARNACLE!

  • One of my long-time gripes is that the “two solitudes” of Montreal (and Canada) persists to this day in the world of crime fiction, which is why I was so happy to see the 2014 publication of Meurtre à Westmount, a translation of The Crime on Cote des Neiges, marking the first time Montrose’s work has been available in French. According to Brian Busby of The Dusty Bookshelf, “Credit goes to translator Sophie Cardinal-Corriveau who discovered Montrose through the 2010 Ricochet Books reissue. She knows talent when she sees it.”
    In 2016, Meurtre dans le ciel de Dorval, a translated version of Murder Over Dorval appeared.

UNDER OATH

  • “Two blondes, one brunette, a roadster and a whole lotta Dow. It doesn’t get much better.”
    — Brian Busby on The Crime on Côte des Neiges (December 2010)
  • “They’re cheap, gritty, good reads, and they feel like home.”
    — Katia Grubisic

  • “J’ai pensé qu’il serait si j’ose dire criminel de ne pas offrir au lectorat francophone québécois cette irrésistible radiographie de la vie montréalaise des années d’après-querre, une histoire aussi sombre sue grinçante, pimentée d’action et arrosée de quelques bonnes pintes de Dow.”
    — André Gagnon in his editor’s note to the French edition of The Crime on Côte des Neiges

NOVELS

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
Original report, February 1999

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