Now here's a weird one: you'd think Kurt Steel would be the private eye's name, and HANK HYER would be the author.
It's Hank's creator who's the one with the unlikely monicker of Kurt Steel. Then again, that's just a pseudonym of Rudolf Hornaday Kagey. So I guess Kurt Steel is an improvement, after all.
According to the very helpful information provided by the Dell paperback (love those mapbacks!) of Judas, Incorporated, Hank's a "tough and well-muscled private investigator, takes himself and the world with adequate salt, and rarely allows sentiment to intrude upon the fundamentals of life. Hyer likes things stirred up and is not adverse to giving fate a stimulating prod. Only a fat fee check can lure him from Broadway."
In other words, a typical hard-boiled dick of the era, albeit an early one who actually predates Chandler's Philip Marlowe. And Steel saddled Hyer with an interesting background: he'd been a brilliant welterweight boxer at one point.
Also, seemed to be a little more political (or at least more aware of politics) than most hard-boiled books of the era. In his The Ethics of the Mystery Novel, Anthony Boucher notes that Judas Incorporated (1939) was "a pro-union labor novel," while in Ambush House (1943), Hank adopts a young girl, a refugee from the Spanish Civil War.
Anyway, Hank (sometimes Henry) appeared in a string of books in the thirties and forties, and proved popular enough to inspire at least a couple of B-films from Paramount.1937's Murder Goes To College, was based on his novel of the same name, published the previous year. It featured Lynne Overman as Hyer and Roscoe Karns as Sim Perkins, providing comic relief, as Hank's bumbling, booze-swilling assistant, and was promptly followed by Partners in Crime, also 1937. Surprisingly, the IMDB also lists Murder Goes to College as the source material.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with an important lead from Bill Kelly. Thanks, Bill.
| Home | Detectives
| Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs |
Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.