"Bail Bond" Dodd

Created by Norbert Davis (1909-49)

"Watch your step, my boy, down that way. It's one of our most exclusive neighbourhoods. Exclusively bad... in this neighbourhood, at this time of night, I wouldn't wait five minutes for the King of England. There's guys around here that would cut your throat for a dime, and I mean ten cents."

-- a cabbie warns Dodd in "Murder in the Red"

Norbert Davis' wise-cracking bailbondsman and quasi-private eye WILLIAM "BAIL BOND" DODD first appeared in the February 1940 issue of Dime Detective and went on to appear in seven more stories, full of all sorts of good stuff like great characters, decent, well thought-out mysteries, ratatatat plotting and witty, tough guy wordplay. And humour, too. One of the best of the pulp series, and worth looking for.

Dodd lived in a twilight netherworld of cheap dives, flophouses, night courts, drunk tanks, holding cells and low-rent saloons populated by lowlifes, deadbeats and petty criminals whose crimes often took a turn beyond petty. At first glance, Dodds may not seem like much. He's an easy-going guy, known around the courts and jails as a bit of a soft touch, with a plodding gait who wears horn-rims, patched over the nose-piece with white adhesive tape.

But, in true pulp fashion, "Bail Bond" can handle it -- he's a tall hard-boiled kinda guy with "deceptively wide" shoulders (whatever they are), a keen mind, and a deep sense of loyalty to his friends and clients who are, invariably, a little on the peculiar side.

He's often helped out in his adventures by his "runner," Meekins, a small, mild-mannered, non-descript man who wears his hat at all times to hide bald spot, and who, all things considered, would rather goof off.

Pulpster Davis is best known for his stories about Doan & Carstairs, a diminuitive private eye and his gigantic dog that he won in a card game, and gumshoe/con artist/restauranteur Max Latin. He also created several other eyes for the pulps, including Max Clark, Mark Hull, Simeon Saxon, Ben Shaley and trust company investigator Just Plain Jones.

SHORT STORIES

  • "Murder Down Deep" (February 1940; Dime Detective)
  • "Murder in the Red" (April 1940; Dime Detective)
  • "This Will Kill You!" (August 1940; Dime Detective)
  • "Come Up and Kill Me Some Time" (October 1941; Dime Detective)
  • "Have One on the House" (March 1942; Dime Detective)
  • "Who Said I Was Dead?" (August 1942; Dime Detective)
  • "You Bet Your Life" (September 1942; Dime Detective)
  • "Take It from Me" (December 1943; Dime Detective)

COLLECTIONS

  • The Complete Cases of Bail-Bond Dodd, Vol. 1 (2015)... Buy this book

Volume One? There were only eight stories? Still, any Norbert is worth reading, and the Bail-Bond Dodd were some of his best.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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