Alphabet Hicks

Created by Rex Stout (1886-1975)

Best known as the creator of Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout also managed to find the time to create a few other notable gumshoes, including ALFRED "ALPHABET" HICKS, a disgraced young lawyer who blames an excess of both pride and ethics for his disbarrment during his very first year of practice.

Suddenly unemployed, he's scratching out a living as a security guard, a nightwatchman and finally a New York cabbie and part-time private detective in his one appearance, the eponymous Alphabet Hicks (1941; later known as The Sound of Murder). One night, Judith Dundee, one of his fares, recognizes him and promptly asks for his help. Seems her fat cat husband, a plastics manufacturer, has accused her of industrial espionage. It turns into a corker of a case, numerous murders, babes stuffed in car trunks, missing chocolate, a phongraph recording used as a key piece of evidence and more quirky characters than you could shake a stick at -- the quirkiest of them all being Hicks himself.

Over-educated to a fault (thank you, Harvard Law), and more than a little impressed with himself, Alphabet got his nickname from his peculiar (and rather pretentious) business cards that feature only his name and a string of seemingly nonsensical letters. Which of course prompts everyone to ask what they stand for. Ther answer is usually some nonsense like Melancholy Spectator of the Psychic Bellyache of Mankind (M.S.O.T.P.B.O.M.) or "Lover of Peace Unless Someone Starts a Fight" (L.O.P.U.S.S.A.F.). Oh, the hilarity!

Other private eyes created by Stout include Dol Bonner and Tecumseh Fox.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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