Reeves compares very favorably to several other hardboiled writers who have been reprinted over the past twenty-odd years. Among them are Paul Cain, Norbert Davis and Jonathan Latimer. Heck, even Robert Leslie Bellem's crappiest work (and there was lots of it) is now available, and Reeves was way better than Bellem.
Anthony Boucher considered Reeves a forgotten, or at least neglected, writer as far back as 1953, and as far as I know, absolutely nothing has been reprinted since then. Boucher called him "one of the best" of the writers developed by Black Mask, but also "one of the least known of the major tough writers". "But," Boucher goes on, "he can hold his own with the best, giving you as sharp and action-packed a story-line as any of them, brightened by vivid dialog and enlivened by the presence of Cellini Smith, who is unique among hard-boiled private eyes in being admittedly an intellectual - and tough enough to get away with it."
While Reeves was clearly influenced by the Black Mask school, he was not actually developed by the magazine. Most others learned their trade writing short stories and progressed to serials that eventually appeared as novels, but Reeves seems to have skipped those steps and went straight to hardcover. As far as anyone knows, Dead and Done For (1939) was his first published work. Only afterward did he begin selling stories to the pulps, and produced fewer than a dozen. The bio here is from the dust jacket of No Love Lost (1941).
When Tony is suspected of murder, Cellini plays detective to clear him. In the process, he finds he's pretty good at it. In the second book, No Love Lost, Cellini is operating a detective agency in Los Angeles.
Reeves' style can be as tough as Paul Cain's, but laced with humor worthy of Jonathan Latimer and Lester Dent. As the series progresses to the third book, he almost strays into Norbert Davis territory. I like this guy a lot.
Here's the bad news: Dead and Done For has only been reissued once - a Grosset & Dunlap edition in 1941. Your best bet may be to get one from InterLibrary Loan or plead with your friendly neighborhood hardboiled reprinter to add it to their list.
Find more of this week's Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott's pattinase.