Created by Lester Dent
“The Cavern of Heads,” a short story that ran in the March 1933 issue of Ten Detective Aces, goes for it right from the start, with a package being delivered to New York-based Baxter Protective Agency, where detective DAVE “DIDDLE” LACY works.
Inside the box?
The head of Jettimore Baxter, the founder and head of the agency.
It’s enough to make a platinum blonde secretary Miss Drake scream, and to get Dave’s attention. Why, he almost drops the two golf balls he was juggling!
Dave’s one of the more unique private eye characters Dent created. Short and burly, rather than tall and lean, broad-shouldered and possessing huge hands and surprising strength, Dave also has a few skills more suited, perhaps, to the circus than a detective agency, like juggling golf balls (which, in a pinch, he can throw with deadly accuracy), and the ability to climb a wall, barefooted, using only his fingers and toes, like a human fly (or, yes, Doc Savage).
Every little bit helps, I guess. “The Cavern of Heads” was Dave’s only appearance, but it’s a good one. Turns out the secretary was engaged to Baxter, there’s a beautiful redhead involved, a decapitated corpse or two, a guy that collects human heads, some missing gold and an impossible crime to solve.
Dave’s apparent nonchalance and playful manner (stop playing with your balls!) gives the story, despite the macabre goings on, a light-hearted touch.
- “This story is atmospheric and creepy as well as action-packed, and it’s just a whole lot of fun.”
— James Reasoner
SHORT STORIES & NOVELLAS
- “Cavern of Heads” (April 1933, Ten Detective Aces)
- Terror, Inc. (2013) | Buy this book
Contains “The Cavern of Heads” and five other “fear-wrapped” tales of weird mystery and detection.
- 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 Lester Dent’s detective characters.