RE: RARA-AVIS: Defective Detectives

Date: 30 Jan 2000

Reed Andrus summarizes one study's conclusions about the short-lived "defective detective" run in the pulps--mainly Dime Mystery Magazine fr. 1938-41:

" The author's premise is that one of the> failings of the pulps was that the villains were more interesting than> the protagonists. So, a trend of
"humanizing" the hero arose, making> them "weird" or "flawed" to increase interest level, I guess from a> series establishment perspective."

This is interesting. I read two of the Fischer stories in the anthology, "The Dead Hand Horrors" and "Flesh for the Monster," both with the original graphic illustrations. Looks like they both continue the "shudder pulp" tradition, even while humanizing the hero. In the first, we have crimes committed against those who can afford to pay by a beautiful woman whose right hand and arm though purely skeletal, can operate them through a series of wires....but wait I don't want to give away the whole plot (?); the second features a pre-steroid muscle guy who prefers to rip his victims limb from limb. The hero, on the other hand, is a guy, Ben Bryn, who has built his upper body up, in partial recompense for being paralyzed in his legs early in life. So far, my considered judgement of these stories is that they are efficient vehicles for horror. Little detection is required.

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