Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective was the second pulp hero, the first to come in the wake of the Shadow and just barely beating out Doc Savage.  It's one of the most numerous in installments (170 issues) and the longest lasting (1933-53).  He was written by a variety of authors under the house names G. Wayman Jones and Robert Wallace.

The Phantom, as he was called in the text, is Richard Curtis Van Loan, a wealthy playboy who trained his body and mind to be a world famous detective when he couldn't return to his idle life after World War One.  He's an expert in disguise, ventriloquy, forensics, and escape.  He has the unerring ability to detect if someone is lying, except for all the times that he doesn't.  He carries a miniature disguise kit, has a badge to prove his identity to law enforcement, and the authorities use a rooftop spotlight to contact him.  He's depicted on the cover in a domino mask, tuxedo, and top hat, but he spends most of his adventures in disguise.

A bit tamer than the Shadow or Doc Savage, but more flavorful than the usual amateur detective.


  1. Like any house-name series, the Phantom Detective is rather inconsistent, but most of them I've read are pretty entertaining. A few are excellent.

    1. Thanks. I'll have to try a few by different authors.