Created by Carroll John Daly
Pseudonyms include John D. Carroll (1889–1958)
Like all of Carroll John Daly’s series characters, MR. STRANG was a shoot-first, let-God-sort-them-out-later kinda guy.
But unlike Three Gun Terry, Race Williams or even Clay Holt, Strang was not a trigger-happy private eye, but a straight-out vigilante, more along the lines of The Shadow, The Avenger, The Spider or even Batman. He even has a secret identity–when not shooting bad guys smack dab in the middle of the head, he’s mild-mannered antiques dealer Strang Cummings. Because nobody would ever figure that pseudonym out.
Nope, not in a million years.
Not for Strang, though, the endless gadgets or outrageous costumes found in most of the hero pulps. Nope–at first glance, Mr. Strang’s most distinguishing characteristic (at least according to the illustrations in Detective Fiction Weekly, where his adventures first appeared) might have been his unfortunate, Spock-like haircut.
Soon enough, we learn he carries a bullet embedded at the base of his skull, a bitter reminder of his murdered parents, and that Strang’s no fan of a parole system that has apparently been taken over by the local crime lord, who uses the prison system as a sort of criminal bullpen, securing early or temporary releases for convicts as required.
Strang has other ideas, though–his sworn mission is “to crush the evils of parole, and to smash the mysterious, sinister figure who uses the parole system to take desperate criminals form jail, to rob and murder helpless citizens!”
And Strang refuses to have the bullet lodged in his noggin removed until his mission is accomplished.
Despite the fact that the bullet exerts undue pressure on his brain, threatening his very sanity!
And that’s not all!
Backing Strang’s play are a group of loyal men and women, all terminal cases with with conveniently incurable diseases, who have all dedicated what’s left of their lives to fighting the good fight alongside him.
Ah, the pulps!
Mr. Strang’ appeared in seven novelettes in Detective Fiction Weekly, which later formed the basis of two novels, Mr. Strang (1936), and “The Legion of the Living Dead” (1937).
Carroll John Daly was, of course, pretty much there at ground zero for the genre, generally considered–along with Dashiell Hammett–as one of the founding fathers of the hard-boiled private eye.
“”Mr. Strang is the punch packing story of a mysterious individual who sets out single handedly to break up the racket of Parole.” from the jacket copy…. Carroll John Daly has for many years made a deep study of crime and his name on a book is also a guarantee of swift action, adventure and thrills.” — the dustcover blurb for Mr. Strang
“Daly’s stories at this stage of career were stuffed with melodrama. Every room, it seems, has a convenient alcove hidden by heavy curtains, just right for heroes and villains to hide behind. In 9 out of 10 shootouts, the hero shoots the villain smack in the center of the forehead, the exception being when the villain happens to be talking at the time–and takes the slug through his open mouth… While the prose is often hokey, it’s always entertaining…” — Evan Lewis (May 2010, Davy Crockett’s Almanack)