Created by Lester Dent
Pipe-smoking New York City private eye LEE COURTNEY NACE, aka “THE BLOND ADDER,” was yet another of Lester Dent’s gadget-loving detectives, out to save us from meteors, poisonous green skeletons, exploding bodies and all sorts of weird menace shit.
But fear not!
Like many a Dent hero, Lee is annoyingly brilliant (he’s fully trained as both a doctor and a lawyer, as well as having been, at various times, an acrobat, a chemist, a cowboy and a magician). Or, as a woman scathingly remarks in his very first story, “The great Lee Nace! The famous private detective Scotland Yard kept in England, on a fabulous salary, to study his methods.”
His “methods,” of course, involve a multitude of gadgets and gizmos, including a metal skull cap that looks like his hair (and partially conceals the nasty red scar on his forehead), cufflinks that shoot knockout darts, a hammerless .38 that fits nicely up his sleeve (he goes gunless in later stories), and a stylish panama hat that shoots out knockout gas. Hell, he has so many so many gadgets, in fact, he lugs them around in a canvas sack.
Hmmm… maybe Batman’s utility belt wasn’t so goofy, after all.
There were only five stories featuring Nace, which ran in five consecutive issues of Ten Detective Aces, and many pulp fans suspect he was using the Nace stories to “try out” various ideas for the Doc Savage stories, which he was writing at the time. In fact, the often cited reason for Dent to stop writing the Nace stories was that the more lucrative Doc Savage stories were eating up all his time.
But Dent seemed to have a thing about “gadget sleuths” right from the start, and he kept trying. Others include Lynn Lash, Foster Fade (“The Crime Spectacularist”) and Click Rush (“The Gadget Man”). They were all very tall, fine young fellows with a penchant for gimmickry and gizmos. Their cases tended towards the fantastic, the exception being Oscar Sail, who was more-or-less a straight private eye.
SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS
- “The Death Blast” (July 1933, Ten Detective Aces)
- “The Skeleton’s Clutch” (August 1933, Ten Detective Aces; aka “Clutch of the Green Claw”; by Leon Dupont)
- “The Diving Dead” (September 1933, Ten Detective Aces)
- “The Tank of Terror” (October 1933, Ten Detective Aces; aka “The Black-Gold Demon”; by Ronald Flagg)
- “The Flaming Mask” (December 1933, Ten Detective Aces)
- The Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot
Lester Dent’s sure-fire recipe for writing a successful pulp story.
- Lester Dent’s Rogues Gallery
An ever-growing list of his detective characters