Katie “The Duchess” Blayne

Created by Whitman Chambers

You want a speed-rapping, wise-cracking, cocky female reporter from the pulps who can run rings around her male counterparts?

Then KATIE BLAYNE, aka “The Duchess,” might be your gal.

Invariably lumped in with Torchy Blane, with whom she shares a gift for mile-a-minute yammering, hard-charging competitivness, and a knack for getting to the bottom of things while the men around her drag their feet (and occasionally their knuckles). Katie appeared in just seven in the pulps (mostly Detective Fiction Weekly) in 1936 and ’37, beginning with “The Duchess Spots a Killer” in the July 1935 issue of Mystery, all narrated by Pinky Kane, a reporter from a rival paper who keeps asking her to marry him.

But she has things to do, and she loves her job.

She’s the police reporter for the Sun in a never-named city, constantly looking for her next scoop–and usually getting it, thanks to a combination of determination, pluck and, as her male rivals dismissively call it, female intuition. Even her sometime-boyfriend Pinky doesn’t quite get it. But she certainly does make some leaps, and she does seem to have the ability, as more than one description puts it, “produce hunches faster than a cigarette machine turns out coffin nails.”


The Duchess made her debut two years before the first Torchy movie, which was allegedly based on Frederick Nebel’s Kennedy and McBride stories. But Torchy bears a much stronger resemblance to The Duchess, to than Nebel’s duo who were both male and had no apparent attraction to each other. I’m just sayin’…


Katie was by far Whitman Chambers‘ most memorable character in the pulps, but then, he didn’t create that many. Despite his work in the crime and detective pulps and twenty or so novels (mostly mystery and crime) he’s best known  nowfor his work in film (Manhandled, The Come-On) and television (77 Sunset Strip, Surfside Six, Bourbon Street Beat, etc.).


  • “The Duchess Spots a Killer” (Jul 1935, Mystery)
  • “The Duchess Rides a Hunch” (Aug 29 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Duchess Pulls a Fast One” (Sep 19 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “Murder at Rehearsal” (Oct 3 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Duchess Wins a Bet” (Nov 7 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Old Maids Die” (Dec 26 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
  • “The Mystery of the Barrio Snatch” (Feb 27 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly)


  • The Duchess Pulls a Fast One: The Complete Cases of The Duchess (2022) | Buy this book 



  • April 20, 2023
    The Bottom Line: You want a speed-rapping, wise-cracking female reporter from the pulps who runs rings around her male counterparts? Then “The Duchess” might be your gal.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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