Lester Dent’s Rogues Gallery

An Ever-Growing List of Lester Dent’s Detective Characters

Kenneth Robeson was the prolific author of about a jillion pulp stories, and was best known as the creator of the Doc Savage series.

But his real name was Lester Dent. And under that name and an avalanche of other pseudonyms and house names that included H.O. Cash, Harmon Cash, Tim Ryan, Cliff Howe, Maxwell Grant, A C.I.D. Official, Ralph Powers, A Legation Attaché, A London Detective, William Dexter, A Police Reporter and C.K.M. Scanlon, he wrote countless western, war, detective and mystery stories for the pulps.

Including a string of private eye tales that ranged from gritty and dark to high-flying Doc Savage-type adventures to just plan WTF? weird. The ultra-prolific Dent was known more for his quantity than his quality, but for sheer inventiveness of detective characters, the only one I can think of who even comes close is Erle Stanley Gardner.

The stories appeared in numerous pulps, including Crime Buster, Ten Detective Aces and Argosy, and he even cracked Black Mask a couple of times. In fact, he held Black Mask in such high esteem that he saved some of his best work for them, including his two stories about Oscar Sail, which many consider his best work, and one of them even made it into Cap Shaw’s The Hard-Boiled Omnibus.

Dent had all sorts of private detective characters and “agency men.” He created several “gadget detectives” — variations on the whole Doc Savage scientific detective/weird menace/superhero theme. He also created several straightforward gumshoes. It depended on the market, and he wasn’t above reworking a story to sell it, or trying out a character, a plot, a gimmick, a twist in one of his detective tales and recycling it for a Doc Savage yarn.

THE “GADGET DETECTIVES”

  • Lynn Lash
    The first of his gadget-loving scientific detectives, and a precursor to Doc Savage.
  • Foster Fade
    Also known as “The Crime Spectacularist,” Fade’s job was to solve fantastic crimes, on behalf of a NYC tabloid.
  • Lee Nace
    “The Blond Adder” had so many gadgets he needed a sack to carry them in.
  • Click Rush “The Gadget Man”
    Arguably the weirdest P.I. Dent — or almost anyone — ever created, Click Rush (aka “The Gadget Man”) takes his orders from a giant talking toad.

THE STRAIGHT EYES

  • Curt Flagg
    The first of Dent’s series characters. Within two years he created Doc Savage.
  • Steve Harden
    A one-shot dick, but what a shot.
  • Sean Kerrigan
    One of Dent’s weird mystery guys, going up against a supervillain called The Spark.
  • Cleve Dane
    Now here’s a skill you don’t see often in private eyes — Cleve can throw his voice.
  • Dave “Diddle” Lacy
    Another skill most P.I.s don’t have — Dave juggles golf balls.
  • Wes Kaine
    Pint-sized Kaine has a few tricks up his sleeve.
  • Oscar Sail
    Many consider the two Black Mask stories featuring Sail to be Dent’s finest work.
  • Ed Stone
    A former prizefight tries to make it as a P.I., with the assistance of his Chinese valet.

WITH A TWIST

  • Chance Molloy
    Not strictly a private eye, but the two novels he appeared in are some sort of hard-boiled.

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s