Jerry Bane

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970)

Yet another of the many characters Erle Stanley Gardner created for the pulps, JERRY BANE was a relatively late arrival, popping up in 1940 or so.

A returned vet and the heir to a vast fortune, his parents soon realized their fun-loving son had no "prediliction for gainful employment" and so wisely left his legacy in trust.

Alas, the life of the idle rich isn't all it's cracked up to be, and so Jerry occasionally amuses himself by sticking his nose into other people's (occasionally criminal) business. Fortunately, the "self-appointed detective" has an ex-cop, "Mugs" Magoo, to serve as his Man Friday; a man whose "loyalty to his young employer is equaled only by his enduring memory for pedigrees of the underworld and its periphery," according to the intro of The Case of the Crying Swallow, a 1971 collection of Gardner stories.

But Jerry was actually a reincarnation of an earlier Gardner hero: Paul Pry, who also had Mugs around to protect him. Mug's appearance led some to assume that Jerry was just Pry with another name, but they are, in fact, different characters.

As far as I can tell, Jerry only made one appearance, in the 1949 short story "The Affair of the Reluctant Witness," but it's a good one, full of the off-key charm of many of Gardner's pulp work. Of course, Gardner's best known as the creator of Perry Mason, but like so much of his pulp work, Jerry someone well worth making the acquaintance of.

SHORT STORIES

  • "The Affair of the Reluctant Witness" (April 1949, Argosy)
  • "The Affair of the Pearl Princess" (November 1949, Argosy)

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with a big tip of the fedora to Monte Herridge for cracking the case.


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