Rocky Steele
Created by John B. West

ALOYSIUS ALGERNON STEELE prefers to be called "ROCKY" and can you really blame him? After all, Aloysius Algernon is just not the kinda monicker any self-respectinghard-boiled P.I. wants to go by. And as a Lucky-smoking, cognac-swigging, ex-boxer and former commando (he saw action in the Pacific in WWII) now running the Steele Special Services, Inc. Detective Agency in Manhattan, Rocky definitely qualifies as some kinda tough guy. He may work closely with the cops when he has to, and even carry a silver police badge which reads "Special Investigator," but make no mistake -- Rocky's his own man. He appeared in six rough and tough PBO's in the late fifties/early sixties, that definitely showed the influence of Mike Hammer.

But this guy makes Hammer look almost subtle, by comparison. Rocky calls the big fat forty-five that always nests under his left arm "Betsy," and he ain't afraid to use her if he has to. And he's got the obligatory devoted (and stacked) secretary, in his case, called Vicky Boston, who's a judo expert and the proud owner of "two peaches (that) thrust up in the air like anti-aircraft guns." She has the hots for Rocky, but of course Rocky won't touch her because he plans to marry her someday. But don't just write off ol' Rocky's some kinda of retro kneejerk sexist pig. Oh, no, rest assured that he's fully in touch with his feminie side. Honest!

"Like I told you...I got female hormones in my blood and I ain't ever been accused of being a pansy, but I must have 'em, because sometimes I get intuitions." Of course, when his feminine instincts don't help, he can always return to his usual M.O. slapping around suspects and witnesses until they talk.

We're talking prime cheese here, stuff so bad it's good. Well, almost. A couple of chapters of West is probably enough for most folks. But if you're ever in the mood for some truly boneheaded, laughably politically incorrect P.I. fare, Rocky's your man.

But what really makes Rocky so gosh-darn memorable is the fact that his creator, John B. West, was a black doctor who lived in Liberia. He was a general practitioner and specialist in tropical diseases; and was also the owner of a broadcasting company, manufacturing firm, and a hotel/restaurant operation. Definitely a mover and shaker of some sort. And in his spare time, he evidently wrote tough guy P.I. novels about white private-eye Rocky Steele, of New York City." Weird, huh?


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