Ethan Barr

Created by Russell Gray (pseudonym of Bruno Fischer (1908-199); other pseudonyms include Harrison Storm)

Russell Gray was a pulpster who romped all over the P.I. genre, from creepy crawly shock-and-awe defective detectives like Calvin Cane (the crab detective) to strait-laced, pipe-smoking suburban criminology professor Ben Helm, who appeared in several novels.

But Gray really let his pulp flag fly when he whipped up ETHAN BURR, a New York City private detective who not only didn't mind getting his hands dirty; he also didn't mind them getting bloody. Extremely bloody.

Because Burr doesn't just catch the bad guys -- he blows them away with his .44. They don't call him the "Practitioner of Death" for nothing.

Not that he was always a homicidal vigilante. Once upon a time, Burr was a straight arrow; an up-and-coming homicide dick with a pretty wife and two small kids, and a career that was looking bright. But when his wife became ill, and he couldn't afford the operation that would have saved her life, he leaves the police department behind to become a high-priced private detective, offering justice with no questions asked.

Burr appeared in half a dozen blood-splattered storries in Strange Detective Mysteries between 1939-40, and they're well worrth tracking down. Typical pulp fare, perhaps, but the author deserves credit for showing the emotional, physical and psychological price Burr pays for his crusade.

Gray (a pseudonym of legendary pulp fiction Bruno Fischer) was one of the more prolific (and popular) writers of the genre, starting out in the weird menace pulps back in the thirties, and eventually moving into the paperback market of the fifties, along the way creating such memorable private eyes as Ben Helm, Ethan Burr and Rick Train.

SHORT STORIES

  • "Butcher's Holiday" (March/April 1939, Strange Detective Mysteries)
  • "Satan's Jigsaw Factory" (May/June 1939, Strange Detective Mysteries)
  • "Murder Goes A-Begging" (July/August 1939, Strange Detective Mysteries)
  • "Murder by Remote Control" (September/October 1939, Strange Detective Mysteries)
  • "It's Raining Corpses in Chinatown" (November/December 1939, Strange Detective Mysteries)
  • "Death Deals in Dust" (May 1940, Strange Detective Mysteries)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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