Joey Saphir

Created by John Lawrence
(1907-1970)

“The first thing he did when he came out of the death house was to put on his turban.”
— opening sentence of “Buried in Bond”

JOEY SAPHIR is yet another of John Lawrence‘s Big Apple-based eyes. He only made a few appearances, as far as I can tell, in the now long-defunct pulp magazine New Detective, but they were impressively over-the-top. As Francis M. Nevins says in the Winter 1992 issue of The Armchair Detective, “I can’t think of a single P.I. in fiction who plays as dirty as this one.”

On the outside, Joey appears to be a well-dressed, if rather short gent. But don’t let his lack of stature deceive you–he’s a former jock, the “smallest Big Ten football player ever,” and he’s about as cold-blooded, ruthless and corrupt as you can get. This agency op for Paramount Liability plays hard, and he plays dirty, and he doesn’t care who gets hurt, or even riddled with bullets. It’s just not a nice world Joey lives in.

In “Body in Waiting,” which appeared in the July 1948 issue,  he’s trying to track down the murderer of fellow gumshoe and pal Danny Dean. Along the way, Joey has his hand cooked on an electric stove by two goons and he himself sets up an innocent man to be murdered. And somewhere in there, he finds the time to rip the lid off nearby Danvers City.

All in a day’s work, right?

And it’s all told in Lawrence’s typical overblown, overwrought, over-boiled snap-crackle-pop prose style, full of crooked heroes, fierce gun battles, and plot holes as big as all git out. But it moves, man.

If that sounds like heaven to you, be sure to check out Lawrence’s other pulp heroes, like P.I.s Cass Blue, Sam Beckett or the vaguely Continental Op-ish Acme Indemnity OpOr, if that isn’t enough, dig up his most famous series characters, those lovable boys in blue, Lt. Marquis and The Broadway Squad, the most crooked, nasty, violent band of thugs ever to pin on a badge.

SHORT STORIES

  • “Buried in Bond” (January 1948, New Detective Magazine)
  • “Body in Waiting” (July 1948, New Detective)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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