Created by Sven Anderton
“By gawd, there ought to be a law against a female being that ugly.”
— Sgt. Dan Polcher
Sven Anderton’s EDNA PENDER was a rough-and-tough female P.I. from the pulps (imagine the ill-bred bastard child of Honey West and Mike Hammer), who appeared in several tales in Famous Detective Stories from 1951 to 1954. Given the tenor of the times, it’s no surprise Edna was known for her big breasts, her tight clothes and her skill with a gun–she tends to aim for the knee or the ear, or sometimes the place “where it really feels.”
Not that she was any great beauty, mind you. Even she admits “I’m the most god-awful sight in St. Louis.”
Much is made — mostly by Edna — of her butchy haircut, her less than attractive face, her large feet, and her skinny bowlegs. Backing her play, and striving to keep on her good side (it’s not clear if she had one), was her partner STEVE WARE, who’s got a soft spot for her — especially when she gives him “The Smile.”
Not that Edna’s interested. “No man is going to seduce me– with smooth talk or otherwise.” And that goes double for her nemisis Sgt. Polcher of the St. Louis police.
Sven (sometimes “Seven”) Anderton wrote for some other pulps, as well. In fact, for a guy I first figured was a house name at Columbia Publications old Sven Anderton really got around. From a bunch of earlier stories in Argosy in the late 1920s into the 1930s, we learned that he has left home early and hoboed around, riding with Pancho Villa, and boozing around, until a woman (later his wife) sobered him up. Not mentioned was his term in prison which respectable sources tell me he was serving when he published his first story.
- “All I can say is Wow! This is the toughest broad I’ve yet discovered in pulp fiction. She is a female Mike Hammer. No lie. Steve Ware is her partner in St. Louis and is the first person narrator but he was never really much of a success until he hooked up with Edna Pender and he knows it. We see the story through his eyes but this is not an equal partnership. Ware does what Edna tells him and hangs on for dear life.
This is the real deal. I am a collector…well maybe an accumulator is more like it. I own thousands of old mags and I buy still more… digging through them and sometimes wondering what drives me to do so. Here is the reason. It is finding, totally unexpectedly, a gem of a story and a writer I never heard of who just may have authored other little wonders that might be in that next mag I buy.”
— Richard Moore
- “Miss Pender looked like the second coming of something that should have stayed away the first time. She was small, bow-legged, and thin—except at the bust. What she had there would have aroused the envy of any Hollywood sweater-girl. Her features were nice–if considered singly–but they didn’t match; the face was grotesque, except when she smiled.”
- “By gawd…”there ought to be a law against a female being that ugly.”
— “Hot Ice House-Warming”
- “Lady Named Trouble” (August 1951, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Miss Pender Smells a Rat” (November 1951, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Hot Ice Housewarming” (February 1952, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Where There Is Smoke” (May 1952, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Here’s Your Syndicate” (August 1952, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Miss Pender’s Loose Thread” (November 1952, Famous Detective Stories)
- “Dollars for Dupes” (February 1953, Famous Detective Stories)
- “No Amateurs Wanted” (August 1953, Famous Detective Stories)
- “The Deadly Diary” (December 1953, Smashing Detective Stories)
- “Smash That Syndicate” (April 1954, Famous Detective Stories)