Another of the lady dicks of the pulps, SARAH WATSON wasn't quite as hard-boiled as Violet McDade or as attractive as Carrie Cashin, but she could certainly lay claim to being the Queen of the Frumps.
She was middle-aged, heavyset and plainly-dressed, called her young male assistant, Ben Todd, a "whippersnapper," and brought her own lunch to work. Yet she was tough enough to threaten to beat an informant up if he didn't come across with the goods, and she admits she'd like to "beat up a man proper, for once! I'd begin on the nose...The nose is a nice tender place to begin. Maybe I'd break it -- after a while."
And she always had her eye on the geetus. She actually boasts at one point that she never gets out "from any given fracas with(out) somebody's goat and a substantial amount of dollars and cents."
Sure, like many pulp tales, the Sarah Watson stories often pushed the boundaries of credibility, but the characters were well-drawn and fresh, and the fast-paced plots steamrollered over any doubts.
In fact, the Watson-Todd team-up, with its large over-bearing lead detective, and her younger, thinner, long-suffereing male partner, bears more than a passing resemblance to the subsequent team-up of A.A. Fair's Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, who were just around the corner.
Sarah was a regular in Detective Fiction Weekly from 1936-37. "Sort of small-town hard-boiled" is how Ron Goulart, in his The Dime Detectives, characterized them.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Special thanks to that young whippersnapper Joel Lyczal for helping me fill it out.
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