(1889-1958) (U.S. Author), Carroll John Daly created the first hard-boiled detective in his 1922 story The False Burton Combs.
Daly's most famous detective, Race Williams, was the prototypical hardboiled detective made of equal doses of street toughness and quick thinking action. Race always managed to escape impossible situations, usually by shooting his way out. Daly's other main characters, Vee Brown and Satan Hall, were made from the same hardboild genre.
Daly was a regular contributor for the pulps, specifically the two leading detective magazines: Black Mask in the 1920s and Dime Detective in the 1930s. He was always a readers favorite for his action packed stories and his quick wit and humor.
Here's an interesting fan letter to Carroll John Daly from Mickey Spillane.
Carroll John Daly's Race Williams
Race Williams was one of the most popular detectives from the pulp fiction era appearing in Dime Detective throughout the 1930s.
From Better Corpses
Race Williams is a character worthy to be placed among the great ones in criminal Action. He is a gunman and a killer, but he is not a crook. He operates midway between the police and the gangster fraternity. And in this case, when he comes to Mary's aid, he finds himself up against a gang who are determined to get the better of him. Again and again he finds himself in situations from which it seems that nothing but his corpse can emerge, and each time he manages to extricate himself through his own dexterity and courage.
It's the point of view in life that counts. For an ordinary man to get a bullet through his hat as he walked home at night would be something to talk about for years. Now, with me; just the price of a new hat--nothing more. The only surprise would be for the lad who fired the gun. He and his relatives would come in for a slow ride, with a shovel-ful of dirt at the end of it. I can take a joke, of course, but my sense of humor isn't fully enough developed along those lines. I have brains, I suppose. We all have. But a sharp eye, a quick draw, and a steady trigger finger drove me into the game. Also you might add to that an aptitude for getting out of trouble almost as quickly as I get into it.
Under the laws I'm labeled on the books and licensed as a private detective. Not that I'm proud of that license but I need it, and I've had considerable trouble hanging onto it. My position is not exactly a healthy one. The police don't like me. The crooks don't like me. I'm just a halfway house between the law and crime; sort of working both ends against the middle. Right and wrong are not written on the statutes for me, nor do I find my code of morals in the essays of longwinded professors. My ethics are my own. I'm not saying they're good and I'm not admitting they're bad, and what's more I'm not interested in the opinions of others on that subject. When the time comes for some quick-drawing gunman to jump me over the hurdles I'll ride to the Pearly Gates on my own ticket. It won't be a pass written on the back of another man's thoughts. I stand on my own legs and I'll shoot it out with any gun in the city--any time, any place. Thirty-fourth street and Broadway, in the five o'clock rush hour, isn't barred either. Race Williams--Private Investigator--tells the whole story. Right! Let's go.
Recommended Reading for Carroll John Daly
A great way to start is with Better Corpses with Race Williams and the Flame. Its a great, action detective story which is also hilarious.
If you enjoy Better Corpses, and enjoyed the relationship between the Flame and Race, then we suggest the following three stories where Race first meets the Flame and her story unfolds. This series concludes with the Third Murderer which may be one of the most complicated plots in Pulp history.
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