RARA-AVIS: Off-trail Defective Detectives

From: Kent Johnson ( kjohnson@slip.net)
Date: 01 Feb 2000

I was reading a western story today which reminded me of the Defective Detective thread here. The story, called "The Sound of Gunfire," by John O'Reilly, originally appeared in FAMOUS WESTERN in 1949 and was reprinted in the excellent 1952 Scott Meredith anthology, BAR 1 ROUNDUP.

The main character is a deadly gunfighter who goes around righting wrongs, but is -- wait for it -- blind!

Well, not really, since the author treats blindness as a super-power. Supposedly the gunfighter's other senses have been so magnified that he actually functions better than any sighted person (kind of like Daredevil in the old west). He doesn't use a cane, has no trouble travelling alone by horse, and is able to come into an unfamiliar town and walk right into up to the saloon and the sheriff's office without directions. (I'll give him the saloon on sound and smell, but the sheriff's office?) The "logical," Holmesian explanations of his abilities are ridiculous and while well-written, the story was so ludicrous that I couldn't finish it. It makes a good anecdote, though.

Another off-trail defective detective can be found in the 1998 over-the-top Hong Kong gangster film HEROES NEVER DIE, in which Lau Ching Wan plays a paraplegic avenger in a wheelchair, whom the bad guys are unaccountably terrified of! There's a hilarious scene where he chases a car through traffic on his wooden go-cart.


Kent Johnson San Francisco kjohnson@slip.net

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