Old King Brady

Created by Francis Worcester Doughty (1850-1917)

"The usual secret passage, Chinese style, lay behind."

-- from "The Bradys' Chinese Clew"

An early American dime novel detective whose decidedly hokey but often entertaining adventures ran from about 1885 until 1912, and who possessed, like many Great Detective heroes of the time, more than a few almost superhuman abilities.

But JAMES BRADY, better known as "OLD KING BRADY," was no airily effete European so popular at the time like Poe's C. Auguste Dupin or some flighty, eccentric Brit like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (whom he predated by a year) -- nope, Brady was a rough, tough, dogged and determined American who always got his man, and who owed at least as much to the cowboy heroes of the time as those imported master sleuths.

Not that he was some simple-minded saddle tramp blasting away with a six gun -- he was an experienced detective, a former investigator with the NYPD, who solves his cases the old fashioned way: through legwork, brains and persistence; a "tall, gaunt figure, clad in dark trousers, a long blue frock coat, a standing collar, and an old-fashioned stock. A wide-brimmed white felt hat covered his closely cut white hair, and a pair of shaggy eyebrows shaded his deep, piercing eyes."

And if the settings weren't quite the Wild West, they were undeniably American, with Brady taking cases all over the country at a time when the Wild West was already fading from view, to be replaced by a whole different kind of wildness. In fact, twenty-odd years before anyone had ever heard of the hard-boiled school or Black Mask Magazine, Doughty was giving readers a gritty, realistic (well, sorta) version of the urban mean streets and a first tentative view of the American City as the "great wrong place," the marauding Apache renegades and Sioux warriors of the Old West replaces by opium peddlers and white slavers, invariably Chinese, although occassionally Brady would tackle "Negro crooks."

Brady made his debut in the November 14, 1885 issue of the New York Detective Library and appeared there in over a hundred subsequent stories under the house pseudonym of "A New-York City Detective." The run ended in 1894, but five years later Old King Brady popped up gain, this time as head of the New York-based Brady Detective Bureau, which reported directly to the United States Secret Service. He was often aided in his investigations by a former student of his, Harry (who coincidentally has the same last name and soon became known as as Young King Brady) and Alice Montgomery, a pretty blonde and former operative for the Australian Secret Service. Their later adventures, all 726 of them, were published in Secret Service, another weekly dime novel -- finally grinding to a halt in 1912.


  • "The Foot in the Frog, or, Old and Young King Brady and the Mystery of the Owl Train" (1899)
  • "The Missing Engineer, or, Old and Young King Brady and The Lightning Express" (1899)
  • "Miss Mystery, The Girl From Chicago, or, Old and Young King Brady on a Dark Trail" (1899)
  • "The Maniac Doctor, or, Old And Young King Brady In Peril"(1899)
  • "The Girl From Boston, or, Old And Young King Brady On A Peculiar Case" (1899)
  • "Hop Lee, The Chinese Slave Dealer, or, Old And Young King Brady And The Opium Fiends" (1899)
  • "Old And Young King Bradys' Battle, or, Bound To Win Their Case" (1899)
  • "The Bradys And The Bond King, or, Working On A Wall Street Case" (1904)
  • "The Bradys On Badman's Island; Or, Trapping The Texas Terror" (1904)
  • "The Brady's Tombstone Terror, or, After The Arizona Mine Wreckers" (1905)
  • "The Bradys and the Girl Smuggler, or, Working for the Custom House" (July 27, 1900, Secret Service)
  • "Bradys Beyond Their Depth, or, The Great Swamp Mystery" (November 16, 1900, Secret Service)
  • "The Bradys' Chinese Clew, or, The Secret Dens of Pell Street" (August 19, 1910, Secret Service)
  • "Bradys After a Chinese Princess, or, The Yellow Fiends Of 'Frisco" (September 1, 1911, Secret Service)
  • "The Bradys on Badman's Island, or, Trapping the Texas Terror"
  • "The Bradys and the Mine Fakirs, or, Doing a Turn in Tombstone"
  • "The Brady's Tombstone Terror, or, After the Arizona Mine Wreckers"
  • "The Bradys' Hard Struggle, or, The Search for the Missing Fngers"
  • "The Bradys and Blackfoot Bill, or, The ï Trail of the Tonopah Terror"
  • "The Bradys and Handsome Hal, or, Duping the Duke of Dakota"
  • "The Bradys and the Lost Ranche, or, The Strange Case in Texas"
  • "The Bradys in Texas, or, The Great Ranch Mystery"
  • "The Bradys on Blizzard Island, or, Tracking the Gold Thieves of Cape Nome"
  • "Ching Foo, the Yellow Dwarf; or the Bradys and the Opium Smokers"
  • "Fan Toy the Opium-Queen; or, The Bradys and the Chinese Smugglers"
  • "Hop Lee, The Chinese Slave Dealer; or, Old and Young King Brady and the Opium Fiends. A Story of San Francisco"
  • "The Badys and the Opium Syndicate; or, After the 'Marquis' of Mott Street"
  • "The Brady and the "Highbinders;"or, The Hot Case in Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys' Bleecker Street Mysterey; or, The House with a Hundred Doors"
  • "The Bradys' Chinese Clew"
  • "The Bradys' Chinese Mystery; or, Called by the 'King' of Mott Street"
  • "The Bradys' Mott Street Mystery; or, The Case of Mrs. Ching Chow"
  • "The Bradys' Opium-Joint Case; or, Exposing the Chinese Crooks"
  • "The Bradys' Race for Life; or, Rounding Up a Tough Trio. A Detective Story of Life"
  • "The Bradys' Singular Search; or, The Mystery of the Mississippi Steamer"
  • "The Bradys' Trip to Chinatown; or, Trailing an Opium Fiend"
  • "The Bradys After a Chinese Princess; or, The Yellow Fiends of 'Frisco"
  • "The Bradys After the Chinese Tong Fiends; or, The Secret Cellar on Mott Street"
  • "The Bradys Beyond Their Depth; or, The Great Swamp Mystery"
  • "The Bradys Chinese Raid; or, After the Man Hunters of Montana"
  • "The Bradys Desert Trail; or, Lost on the Deadman's Run"
  • "The Bradys Down South; or, The Great Plantation Mystery"
  • "The Bradys Drugged"
  • "The Bradys Out West; or Winning a Hard Case"
  • "The Bradys Shadowing a Chinaman; or, Trapping a Yellow Fiend'"
  • "The Bradys Trailing a Chinese Giant; or, The 'Strong Arm' Men of Mott Street"
  • "The Bradys Working of a Life, or, Exposing a Great Fraud"
  • "The Bradys abd the Chinese Idol; or, The Clew Found in Pell Street"
  • "The Bradys among the Chinamen; or, The Yellow Fiends of the Opium Joints"
  • "The Bradys and "Black Jack;"or, Tracking the Negro Crooks"
  • "The Bradys and "Brazos Bill;"or, Hot Work on the Texas Border"
  • "The Bradys and "Dr-Doo-Da-Day;"or, The Man Who Was Lost on Mott Street"
  • "The Bradys and "Joe Jinger;"or, The Clew in the Convict Camp"
  • The Bradys and "Joss House Jim;"or, Tracking a Chinese Crook"
  • "The Bradys and "Kid Joaquin;"or, The Greasers of Robbers Canyon"
  • "The Bradys and "Mr. Magic;"or, After the Thumbless League"
  • "The Bradys and Brady the Banker; or, The Secret of the Old Santa Fe Trail"
  • "The Bradys and Captain Darke; or, the Mystery of the China Liner"
  • "The Bradys and Dr. Ding; or, Dealings with a Chinese Magician"
  • "The Bradys and Dr. Hop Low; or, The Deepest Mott Street Mystery"
  • "The Bradys and Governor Gum; or, Huinting the King of the Highbinders"
  • "The Bradys and Gump High; or, The Mystery of the Ruined Joss House"
  • "The Bradys and Hi-Lo-Jak; or, Dark Deeds in Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and Hop Toy; or, Working for the Mayor of Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and Little Chin-Chin; or, Exposing an Opium Gang"
  • "The Bradys and Prince Hi-Ti-Li; or, The Trail of the Fakir of 'Frisco"
  • "The Bradys and the 'Black' Poisoner; or, Strange Work in Philadelphia"
  • "The Bradys and the 'Bonanza King;' or, Fighting the Fakirs in Frisco"
  • "The Bradys and the 'Chink' Smugglers; or The Hurry Call to Canada"
  • "The Bradys and the 'Prince' of Pekin; or, Called on a Chinese Clew"
  • "The Bradys and the Black Giant; or, The Secrets of 'Little Syria'"
  • "The Bradys and the Blind Chinaman"
  • "The Bradys and the Bronze Idol; or, Tracking a Chinese Treasure and Other Stories"
  • "The Bradys and the Canton Prince; or, Working for the Chinese Minister"
  • "The Bradys and the Chinese "Come:Ons"; or, Dark Doings in Doyers Street"
  • "The Bradys and the Chinese Banker; or, Fighting for Dupont Street Diamonds"
  • "The Bradys and the Chinese Dwarf; or, the 'Que Hunter' of the Barbary Coast"
  • "The Bradys and the Chinese Fire Fiends; or, Breaking Up a Secret Band"
  • "The Bradys and the Chinese Juggler; or, The Opium Fiend's Revenge"
  • "The Bradys and the Death Bell; or, The Secret of the Indian Juggler"
  • "The Bradys and the Demon Doctor; or, The House of Many Mysteries"
  • "The Bradys and the Drug Slaves; or, The Yellow Demons of Chinatown
  • "The Bradys and the Dumb Chinaman and Other Stories"
  • "The Bradys and the Fan Tan Players; or, In the Secret Dens of Chinatown""
  • "The Bradys and the Highbinders League; or, The Plot to Burn Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and the Hip Sing Ling; or, After the Chinese Free Masons"
  • "The Bradys and the Hip Sing Tong; or, Hot Work on a Highbinder Case"
  • "The Bradys and the Hop Crooks; or, The Hidden Man of Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and the Hop Hitters; or, Among the Opium Fiends of 'Frisco"
  • "The Bradys and the Idol's Eye; or, The Clew of the Crystal Cross"
  • "The Bradys and the Mad Chinaman; or, Hot Work in Five Cities"
  • "The Bradys and the Magic Ring; or, The Case of the Hindoo Conjurer"
  • "The Bradys and the Missing Girl; or, A Clew Found in the Dark"
  • "The Bradys and the Opium Dens; or, Trapping the Crooks of Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and the Opium King; or, Braving the Perils of Pell Street"
  • "The Bradys and the Opium Ring; or, The Clew in Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and the Opium Smugglers; or, A Hot Trail on the Pacific Coast"
  • "The Bradys and the Queen of Pell Stret; or, The Hidden Hut in Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys and the Queen of the Highbinders; or, The War of the Tongs and Leongs"
  • "The Bradys and the Ruby Bug"
  • "The Bradys and the Snake Charmer"
  • "The Bradys and the Swamp Rats; or, After the Georgia Moonshiners"
  • "The Bradys and the Telegraph Boy; or Exposing the League of Three"
  • "The Bradys and the VooDoo Queen"
  • "The Bradys and the Witch Doctor; or, Mysterious Work in New Orleans"
  • "The Bradys and the Yellow Crooks"
  • "The Bradys and the Yellow Giant; or, The Clew in the Joss House and Other Stories"
  • "The Bradys and the Yellow Prince; or, The Drug Fiends of Chinatown"
  • "The Bradys ane the Conspirators; or, The Case That Came From Mexico"
  • "The Bradys at Baffin's Bay; or, The Trail Which Led to the Arctic"
  • "The Bradys at Coney Island; or, Trapping the Sea-Side Crooks"
  • "The Bradys at Fort Yuma; or, The Mix Up with the 'King of Mexico'"
  • "The Bradys at Gold Hill; or,m The Mystery of the Man from Montana"
  • "The Bradys at Madman's Roost; or, A Clew from the Golden Gate"
  • "The Bradys in "Little Africa;"or, Ten Hours of Deadly Peril"
  • "The Bradys in "Little Pekin;"or, The Case of the Chinese Good King"
  • "The Bradys in Death Swamp; or, Downing a Desperate Band and Other Stories"
  • "The Bradys in Frisco; or, A Three Thousand Mile Hunt"
  • "The Bradys in Maine; or, Solving the Great Camp Mystery"
  • "The Bradys in Washington; or, Working for the President"
  • "The Bradys in the Chinese Quarter; or, The Queen of the Opium Fiends"
  • "The Opium King; or, the Brady's Great Chinatown Case"
  • "The Queen of Chinatown; or, The Bradys Among the "Hop"Fiends"


A slew of Old King Brady stories, available for download as pdfs.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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