Foster Fade “The Crime Spectacularist”

Created by Lester Dent

Yet another of Doc Savage creator Lester Dent’s “gadget detectives,” FOSTER FADE aka “The Crime Spectacularist,” appeared in the thirties in All Detective Magazine.

Unlike the Man of Bronze or Lynn Lash, Dent’s first gadget detective, Foster works for a living. He may call himself the “Crime Spectacularist,” but he’s basically a private detective, working for a Manhattan tabloid called The Globe (or was it The Planet?) and charged with finding “spectacular” crimes and solving them. Then it’s up to Foster’s assistant, Dinamenta “Din” Stevens, a saucy, wisecracking platinum blonde, to write it all out for publication.

Obviously, it’s a sales gimmick.

Still, business must have been good. His paper has two mechanics on retainer to help create Foster’s doohickeys for him, and he did seem to be living rather high off the hog, living in a gadget-filled high-rise apartment.

Sure, the stories are pretty much standard fare on the surface, but scratch a little deeper and the craziness comes oozing out: the whiz-bang technology of Foster’s crazy inventions and the wild stories involving white-hot stiffs, gun runners, Chinese war lords, jewel smugglers, mutilated corpses, Latin American rebels, sunken treasure, stolen diamonds and a criminal known only as “the Aroma Assassin” make for some nifty, pulpy reading. Pulp historian William Murray tagged the stories as “terse, hard-boiled but imaginatively vital,” and considers the Foster Spade stories “no doubt the pinnacle of this sub-genre.”

Sadly, Foster only appeared in three stories (after an alleged squabble between Dent and All Detective Magazine‘s editor) and promptly faded from view. Dent decided to focus solely on the more lucrative Doc Savage, but he would try again in a few more years with another gadget loving scientific detective, Lee Nace, also known as”The Blond Adder.”

For those hungry for more Fade, in 2014 The New Adventures of Foster Fade, a collection of all new stories by assorted writers, was published.


  • “Hell in Boxes” (February 1934, All Detective Magazine)
  • “White-Hot Corpses” (March 1934, All Detective Magazine)
  • “Murder by Circles” (May 1934, All Detective Magazine)


  • Hell in Boxes: The Exploits of Lynn Lash and Foster Fade (2012) | Buy this book  | Kindle it!
  • The New Adventures of Foster Fade (2014) | Buy this book  | Kindle it!
    Six all new stories by Adam Lance Garcia, H. David Blalock, Aubrey Stephens, Derrick Ferguson and David White.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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