During his career Damon Runyon had a nose for picking out eccentrics and rubbed shoulders with the likes of the revolutionary Pancho Villa, Otto Berman, a mobster accountant and the journalist Walter Winchell. His first published works in 1910/11 were poetry, but the work he earned his reputation as a fiction writer for were produced in and about the post prohibition years of the 1930’s.

It would be an easy mistake to imagine, given his background, that he was another Raymond Chandler. That he produced hardboiled stories about hard boiled gangster types, the pages littered with sneering Humphrey Bogart’s and high-heeled diamond edged dames who slithered into gloomy second floor offices in the dead of night and turned out to be bad news. I made the mistake myself when I was first introduced to him by my other half, a long time ardent fan who slips into Runyonspeak at the drop of a fedora.