Created by Maxine O’Callaghan
Orange County, California is the stomping ground of street-smart private eye DELILAH WEST, who’s been around longer than even Sharon, Kinsey or V.I. She made her first appearance in a short story in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine way back in 1974, predating all of them. But for some reason, the critical attention and commercial success that surrounded her sisters-in-crime in the 1980s eluded Delilah and her creator, Maxine O’Callaghan.
Not that she was the first female eye, or even the first to be written by a woman (she missed that by a century or so), but in the “modern era” (whatever that means at this point), she seems to have slipped through the cracks.
Too bad. Because while Delilah may not have had the spark and zip of the others, she was a more-than-enjoyable and credible P.I. A former cop, she goes into the shamus game with her husband Jack. But when he’s murdered, she starts playing it for keeps in a series of books and stories that at the time drew praise for their emotional realism and snappy plotting.
In July 1999, at the Eyecon, held in St. Louis, the Private Eye Writers of America righted that wrong, and very deservedly bestowed The Eye, its Lifetime Achievment Award upon Maxine. I wasn’t there, but more than one P.I. fan present, according to sources, was heard to mutter, “It’s about time.”
- “Maxine was a trailblazer… and yet she never enjoyed the wide public or critical recognition she deserved. Her books are terrific, but were all out of print and in danger of slipping into obscurity before we came along. I thought it was vitally important that we republish her books… It’s a tragedy that her books never “broke out” the way Sue and Sara’s did…because they are every bit as good and still hold up well today.”
— Lee Goldberg of Brash Books, who brought the books back into print, starting in 2014
- Death Is Forever (1981) | Buy the book | Kindle it!
- Run From the Nightmare (1982) | Buy the book | Kindle it!
- Hit and Run (1989) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Set-Up (1991) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Trade-Off (1996) | Buy this book
- Down For the Count (1997) | Buy this book
- “A Change of Clients” (November 1974, AHMM; also 1999, First Cases 3)
- “Bad News” (1994, Deadly Allies II)
- “Deal with the Devil” (1994, Maxine O’Callaghan Bibliography 1974-1995)
- “Diamonds Are For Never” (1998, Lethal Ladies II)
- “Somewhere South of Melrose” (1999, Murder at the Movies)
- “Going to the Dogs” (2005, Creature Cozies)
- “Belling the Cat” (2014, Bad News and Trouble)
The first, unpublished stoy, finally in print.
- A Change of Clients and Death Is Forever (1999)
- Bad News and Trouble: The Delilah West Stories (2014) | Buy the book | Kindle it!
Oline H Cogdill pays tribute (May 2019, Mystery Scene)