Keene was the pseudonym of Gunard Hjerstedt who was born on the
south side of Chicago, the son of a paving contractor, in 1903.
Keene became an actor in repertory theatre in the early 1920s.
When some of his friends, such as Melvyn Douglas and Barton McClain,
decided to try movies, Keene, who had already had some success
writing plays for the group, flipped a coin to decide between
acting and writing. Writing won.
the 1930s he began writing scripts for radio soap operas. He was
the principal writer for the “Little Orphan Annie”
radio program. In 1940 he started contributing to pulp magazines
specializing in crime and detective fiction. His first stories
were published in Ace G-Man Stories and Dime Mystery
and later he graduated to Black Mask and Dime Detective.
of the pressure and the grind, Keene moved to the sparsely populated
west coast of Florida, where he became one of the first, best,
and most prolific writers to make the transition from the pulps
to the newly emerging paperback originals in the late 1940s. He
also befriended young writers who had moved there, among them
Talmage Powell and John D. MacDonald.
stock in trade was fast-paced crime stories.
WITH THE DEVIL
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