Created by D.L. Champion
Billing himself as a detectivo particular, Mercado appeared in eight novelettes in Dime Detective, between 1944 and 1948. The stories were narrated by Latham who seems to be the North American assistant of Mercado. In “The Shabby Shroud,” he describes Mercado as “a little brown man with a shrewd mind, a great deal of physical courage where bacteria was not concerned; a taste for clothing loud as a thunderbolt, and a fearful hypochondria.”
Mercado’s germ phobia, which he carries to obsessive and ridiculous lengths, adds a humorous edge to the story, as does his multi-hued wardrobe (a “bright, jealous green suit”, shoes “yellow as the proverbial dog”, and a shirt “pink as an embarrassed salmon’s underbelly.”)
But germs or bad fashion sense aren’t Mercado’s only problem. Although he’sreferred to as “the smartest detective in Mexico,” he has an ongoing feud with the corrupt and lazy Coronel Gomez of the Federal District Police, who nonetheless often benefits from the P.I.’s investigations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author Champion was born in Australia and educated in New York. He served with the British Army in World War I, worked in the merchant marine, and read copy for a slew of magazines, before turning to writing himself. He was also the creator of eccentric skinflint private eye Rex Sackler and legless, cantankerous “unofficial” homicide consultant Inspector Allhoff.
- “Mexican Slayride” (September 1944, Dime Detective)
- “The Vanishing American” (December 1944, Dime Detective)
- “Death in the Sun” (July 1945, Dime Detective)
- “A Toast to the Killer” (November 1945, Dime Detective)
- “No Place Like Homicide” (April 1946, Dime Detective)
- “A Hound for Murder” (December 1946, Dime Detective)
- “Suitable for Framing” (May 1947, Dime Detective)
- “The Shabby Shroud” (June 1948, Dime Detective)
- The Complete Cases of Mariano Mercado (2016) | Buy the book
Include only four Mercado stories, plus two other stories by D. L. Champion.
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- August 9, 2023
The Bottom Line: This hypochondriac P.I. from Mexico City was “a little brown man with a shrewd mind” and “a great deal of physical courage where bacteria was not concerned,” according to his American Watson. Ah, the pulps.
Respectfully submitted by Manuel Ramos. Mucho gracias!