ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Discover Harold Adams, the mystery writer who stirred the dust

Updated on July 4, 2016
Harold Adams, book Jacket photo
Harold Adams, book Jacket photo

He was a bum

Carl Wilcox would be the first to tell you he was a bum. An ex-con who was homeless, a drifter, a drinker and eventually called the murder man, might earn the bum label. Harold Adams created Carl Wilcox and placed him in the 1930s, as the depression was gripping the country, smothering rural America. Banks were foreclosing on mortgages, forcing home and farm sales. Many of these banks were having their doors closed because of ill-liquidity, leaving savers strapped. Jobs were drying up with the economy. Lives were drying up in the dust bowl.

Harold Adams places the town of Cordon in South Dakota, paints it the dreary beige of the dust, fills it with people who endure as much as they live, and then lets Carl Wilcox drift in after being released from prison. Carl gets a room in his parent's boarding house and does odd jobs to help out. He's casual, but cares about people. He's aimless but not irresponsible. He's a wise guy, tough guy, but not a bully. He stumbles as casually into a murder, as to a widow's arms. His knack for resolving the murder in the first few books eventually earns him some respect in surrounding towns as a man who can figure out murders - a murder man. As the series progresses he becomes just a little more rooted, develops a profession, of sorts, as a sign painter, but continues to wear the aura of the lay about, the underachiever, the bum.

Harold Adams is one of those writers who are able to create a sense of time and place with a few words. He doesn't use endless details to paint the picture. His spare books let the story and characters blow the dust over you, make you weary with the day's effort, and somehow lets the hopefulness of the human spirit leak through.

Harold Adams was born in Clark, South Dakota, ended up in Minnetonka, Minnesota. In his pre-writing career he was the Operations Manager at the Minneapolis Better Business Bureau then spent over 20 years as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Charities Review Council.

AWARDS His fellow authors also admire his work:

  • 1993 SHAMUS Award as BEST P.I. HARDCOVER for, The Man Who Was Taller Than God.
  • 1986 nominated for SHAMUS as BEST P.I. HARDCOVER for, The Naked Liar.
  • 1999 nominated for SHAMUS as BEST P.I. NOVEL for, No Badge, No Gun.

I like his books because they create a sense of time and place. They stories are good, but the writing is better. You don't so much escape, as drift into South Dakota in the 1930s. I wouldn't want to live there, but such a terrific visit!


This is a great series, and one where the protagonist, Carl Wilcox, develops over time. So if you are a series reader, find and start with the first book, Murder.

If you want to jump in and sample, then try The Man Who Was Taller Than God. A great read.

Harold Adam's Bibliography

Books by Harold Adams are out of print (and collectible), as hard covers. Most have been reprinted as trade paperbacks. Check your library. Check the links provided. Great bargains exist!

Carl Wilcox' Novels

  1. Murder, 1981
  2. Paint the Town Red, 1982
  3. The Missing Moon, 1983
  4. The Naked Liar, 1985
  5. The Fourth Widow, 1986
  6. The Barbed Wire Noose, 1987
  7. The Man Who Met the Train, 1988
  8. The Man Who Missed the Party, 1989
  9. The Man Who Was Taller Than God (Shamus Award), 1992
  10. A Perfectly Proper Murder, 1993
  11. A Way with Widows, 1994
  12. The Ditched Blonde, 1995
  13. Hatchet Job, 1996
  14. The Ice Pick Artist, 1997
  15. No Badge, No Gun, 1998
  16. Lead, So I Can Follow, 1999

Other Novels

  • When Rich Men Die, 1987
  • The Fourth of July Wake, 2003

Discovering Mystery Writers

There are many more terrific mystery writers whose names may not be on the NY Time's list, but deserve to be on a mystery reader's list. Discover Mystery Authors is a HubPage with a sneak peek at many more author's that you should check out!

Harold Adams signing books at Once Upon A Crime mystery store in Minneapolis
Harold Adams signing books at Once Upon A Crime mystery store in Minneapolis

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)