Created by Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970)
Yet another of the many colourful characters Erle Stanley Gardner created for the pulps, PAUL PRY (aka "The Crime Juggler") was one of Gardner's many wealthy, eccentric con artist/detectives who made a living scamming other criminals..
Pry bore clear similarities to several of Gardner's other, more popular characters, from Sidney Zoom, The Patent Leather Kid and Lester Leith right up to Cool & Lam and arguably even Perry Mason. All of them took delight in beating crooks at their own games, though Pry seemed to employ more hands-on methods than some of the others.
Pry was a suave, if rather peculiar gent; a dandy who carried a cane that conceals a sword, and lived in a swank hotel, where he kept his collection of drums from all over the world. But it wasn't simply your regular apartment -- his suite was heavily fortified, and boasted steel doors, while his sedan was a heavily armored sixteen cylinder monster. Pry, it seems, wasn't fooling around.
Aiding and abetting Pry in his various dodges and capers was "Mugs" Magoo, an ex-cop and former alcoholic who lost his right arm in an accident but retained an almost miraculous memory for mug shots, hence the nickname. He accompanied Pry on his escapades, often disguised as a bum.
Pry appeared in twenty-six short stories and novelettes, making his debut in the very first issue of Gang World, itself the first pulp title from Popular Publications. After Gang World was scuttled in November 1932 (due to declining sales and the waning popularity of the gangster pulps), the Pry simply stories moved to Popular's Dime Detective.
Arguably the best-selling American author of the 20th century at the time of his death, Gardner, of course, was best known as the creator of the celebrated Perry Mason series, but cut his teeth writing for some of the leading magazines of the time, such as Argosy, Detective Fiction Weekly and Black Mask, where his stories frequently outdrew those of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.
Large print reprint of 1990 edition, divided into two volumes
| Home | Detectives A-L M-Z | Film | Radio | Television | Web Comics | Comics | FAQs | Search |