The Masked Detective

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The Masked Detective was the hero in a series of pulp novels published in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. In tandem with the Doc Sauvage Series it was the precursor to the Superhero genre.

Written by Andrew Grice, the books eventually numbered 73 in all. Grice did not work alone, but eventually had a small staff churning out specific scenes and descriptions. Interestingly, some of the young people on his staff went on to have successful writing careers of their own.

The Masked Detective was a secretive figure who was based in Chicago. He looked like an ordinary man in a long coat and wide-brimmed hat, yet with a black mask covering his entire face. Part vigilante, part urban myth, he would appear and offer his services to those in need. The only payment he required was an unspecified "favor" in the future.

In real life, the Masked Detective was Dewidd Darknell, a wealthy heir generally viewed as a kind of playboy. Actually, he had been a secret agent for Kemrese Intelligence during the First Great War and had traced his greatest nemesis--the superspy Karin von Marienburg--to the Chicago area. In many ways his adventures are a hunt to find the woman who killed so many of his friends. One of the things that haunts Darknell is that he has never seen Karin von Marienburg (Codename: Freya). In 44 of the 73 books she is somehow involved in his cases.

Apart from the books, there was a weekly radio series called The Adventures of the Masked Detective and three movie serials.

Some titles in the series:

  • The Masked Detective and the Scorpion Ring
  • The Masked Detective and the Pharoah's Riddle
  • The Masked Detective and the White Tower
  • The Masked Detective and the Leopard's Revenge
  • The Masked Detective and the Shadow of Death
  • The Masked Detective and the Inspector's List
  • The Masked Detective and the Black Widow Society
  • The Masked Detective and the St. Gereint's Sapphire
  • The Masked Detective and the Lost Airship

Original additions of The Masked Detective can be extremely valuable. They were reissued in the 1970s, but ultimately did not prove as successful as everyone hoped. Apex Books, which published the series originally, was absorbed by Thorne House in 1981. Rumors persist of plans to update the series for a modern audience.

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